Sunday, February 28, 2010

Obama Extends Patriot Act--No One Complains

It seems that the Republicans and President Bush were right all along about the country needing the Patriot Act. Its critics have have lost their voices or changed their minds since the election of Barack Obama.

Wiretaps and surveillance that were scary under President Bush are okey-dokey under President Obama.
The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.

Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:

_Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

_Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

_Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

George W. Bush Doesn't Want to Be Like Jimmy Carter

From Politico's Mike Allen:
"Bush made it clear he plans to continue to keep a low profile: 'I have no desire to see myself on television. I don't want to be a panel of formers instructing the currents on what to do. I'm trying to regain a sense of anonymity. I didn't like it when a certain former president — and it wasn't 41 or 42 — made my life miserable.'

"That was a reference to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president."

Where Is the Compassion in the Democratic Party?

Democrats have a hard time empathizing with a Down Syndrome child of an opposing politician. See especially the discussion at the 1:25 and 3:00 minute marks.

Where's the compassion among Democrats?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Healthcare Central? U.S. Jobless Claims Rise 8% More Than Expected

Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times:
At the very same hour as Obama is talking about his beloved healthcare plan, out come surprising new federal numbers showing that last week new J-O-B-L-E-S-S claims unexpectedly went up -- as in more of them -- to nearly a half-million, 22,000 more than the previous week. And nearly 8% higher than the expected 460,000 new claims.

H/T Jennifer Rubin

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oregon Looks to World's Biggest Debtor for Economic Help


The state of Oregon is facing a budget crunch in the next seven years. And where does it look for an answer? To a bailout, of course. Not only that. It's a bailout from a source with even bigger financial problems than Oregon's.
"Oregon needs another federal bailout or it will face massive, billion-dollar-plus shortfalls for the foreseeable future, one of the Legislature's chief budget writers cautioned Wednesday.

The state has enough money to get through the current two-year budget cycle -- barely -- said Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. But the state's financial picture turns increasingly grim after that."
So, Oregon looks to Uncle Sam (who owes $13.4 TRILLION) for a bailout for it's piddling $2.5 BILLION estimated shortfall for 2011-2013.

On a graph of debt this is how silly it looks:

The problem is that Oregon has "snail-paced economic growth" and the Democratic state leaders don't want to raise taxes again after just raising them (a raise not thought out well enough to be of real help beyond the current year) or cut spending.

Further, just to come close to this year's budget needs the state is "transferring" dedicated funds to the general fund including:

- "Oregon Public Utilities Commission's operating budget"
- "a 'protection and education' fund in the Department of Justice"
- "a fund that covers unemployment benefits if a self-insured business goes bankrupt"
- "a pot that pays for administering worker compensation claims"

If a private person or company co-opted dedicated funds, they would be facing a lawsuit and even prison. But, the state of Oregon can do it because Democratic legislators are "out of options".
"Buckley acknowledged the sweeps have stirred the ire of some influential companies. But he said lawmakers are out of options."
As though this were a fat cat issue. How does the Oregon Public Utilities Commission help "influential companies"? Or a Department of Justice fund for protection and education? Not to mention unemployment benefits for a bankrupt self-insured business or administering worker compensation claims?

The option that most Oregonians choose when faced with too little income and too many expenses is to cut expenses. But, Rep. Buckley and his fellow Democrats find cutting expenses too difficult. Which is a major reason for Oregon's "snail-paced economic growth".

Elections have consequences.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anna Griffin Shows Heart on Laz D

Since I have criticized the reporting of Anna Griffin a couple of times in this blog, it's only fair to give her kudos for a recent story on a Down Syndrome man who aspires to a career as a rapper.

Cameron Lasley and his parents have the right stuff. And so does this story by Anna Griffin.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seth MacFarlane Uses His "Bully" Pulpit in "Family Guy"

Seth MacFarlane creator of Family Guy
photo by Gage Skidmore

Seth MacFarlane shows his inner "bully" self by ridiculing mentally challenged people this week in his cartoon series "Family Guy". He thinks it's a cute stereotype to depict Downs Syndrome people as pushy and arrogant.

Actually, they aren't pushy and arrogant. They have had to deal with snide, hurtful bullies like MacFarlane all their lives. Those who are weak and defenseless become fearful under abuse not arrogant. The playground is clear testimony to that.

Who will MacFarlane's next targets be? Those with MS? Alzheimer's? Quadriplegics? Maybe MacFarlane will go international and pillory Darfur victims.

Whether MacFarlane was a laugh a minute bullying others on the playground as a child is unclear, that he thinks he's on a hot roll now that he's in with the Hollywood/entertainment crowd is apparent.

The really sad thing is that no one, not even Seth MacFarlane, gets out of life without personal pain. At some point he will experience the sort of pain he so easily dishes out now on the weak and defenseless.

Fortunately, the special needs people and those who love them will be there to help Seth when he finally learns that it's not bullying but helping those in need that makes a man important.

UPDATE: The little film clip linked doesn't show the half of MacFarlane's "grind 'em in the dust" view of Down Syndrome men and women. Here are the lyrics of MacFarlane's ode to the Down Syndrome girl in the cartoon:
"You’ve got to look your best tonight, you tubby little parasite
‘Cause there’s a lovely lady and she’s waiting for you.
And though her pretty face may seem
A special person’s wettest dream
Before you get to see it there are things you must do.
We’ll try a tie, and boutonniere of yellow.
A rose that shows that you’re a classy fellow.
With a posh panache of Jefferson at Monticello,
Busting out a mile with style.
I know you just can’t wait to stare
At all that luscious orange hair
But boy before you touch a single curl
You must impress that ultra boomin’,
All-consumin’, poorly groomin’
Down syndrome girl.

On any normal day you reek
As if you’re on a farting streak,
Your fingers up your nose and you are dripping with drool.
But if you want a lady’s love,
You’re better off by smelling of
A gentleman’s cologne instead of sneakers and stool.
A squirt, a spurt of something just for Ellen
And you’ll see that she will find you so compellin’.
And she does because the only smell that she’ll be smellin’
Won’t be comin’ from your bum.
You want to take that little whore
And spin her on the dancing floor
But boy, before you do a single twirl –
You must impress that effervescing,
Self-possessing, no-BS-ing
Down syndrome girl.
Her eyes are emerald portals to a secret land of love
And her smile is like the sweetest summer flower.
Her kiss is so inviting, and her hugs are so delighting.
And what makes them really nice is that they’ve got a little spice
Because they’re tighter than a vice and they go on for an hour.
My boy, between the two of us we’ll get you on that shorty bus.
And then you’re going to take it for a whirl.
Now go impress that super-thrilling,
Wish-fulfilling, Yoo-Hoo-spilling,
Ultra-swinging, boner-bringing,
Daily singing, ding-a-linging
Stupefying, fortifying,

Stimulating, titillating,
Kitty-cat impersonating,
Mega-rocking, pillow talking,
Just a little crooked walking,
Poorly pouting, boobies sprouting,
For some reason always shouting,

Fascinating, captivating,
Happiness and joy creating
Down syndrome girl"
[emphasis added]

Punch Lines

Dems too Liberal? Jennifer Rubin on Senator Evan Bayh's surprising retirement:
So his departure should set off a round of soul-searching by Democrats as to whether they’ve strayed too far to the Left, have become ideological purists, and are losing their appeal to the great middle of the political spectrum. Right?

Well that was the media’s endless storyline when a host of liberal-to-moderate Republicans, especially in the northeast, lost seats or defected to the Democratic party. Then we heard the cries that the GOP was “intolerant” or becoming a “fringe” party. But consider the retirees and many of the endangered Democratic incumbents (e.g., Bayh, Blanche Lincoln, Arlen Specter, Michael Bennet, Byron Dorgan).
Stimulus Bill = No Jobs? Senator Evan Bayh in retirement announcement:
"But if I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months."
Climate Meltdown?:
Meanwhile, one of the scientists at the center of the climategate fiasco has called into question other issues that the climate lobby has claimed are indisputable. Phil Jones, who stepped down as head of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit amid the climate email scandal, told the BBC that the world may well have been warmer during medieval times than it is now.

This raises doubts about how much our current warming is man-made as opposed to merely another of the natural climate shifts that have taken place over the centuries. Mr. Jones also told the BBC there has been no "statistically significant" warming over the past 15 years, though he considers this to be temporary.
Some animals are more equal than others? Victor Davis Hanson on The New Commandments on the Animal Farm Barn Wall:
1. Savvy Americans always see through the fraud in the end and do the right thing are infantile and don’t know what’s good for them.

2. Democracy is finally working again in decline and the people are ungovernable.

3. The filibuster is a much-needed check on the Bush-Cheney steamrolling nexus evil.
. . .
6. Americans and their politicians should listen to brave voices of dissent within the intelligence community must support in bipartisan fashion their government’s policies against terrorism.
. . .
8. Trying KSM in New York is proof of the resiliency of the American system problematic.

9. Guantanamo Bay will be shut down a year from the inauguration sometime, perhaps, in the future.

10. Deficits are proof of the reckless Bush-Cheney fiscal policies necessary stimuli designed to move our country in a fairer and more equitable direction.
. . .
12. C-Span should air health-care debates should never be allowed to air insider horse-trading will air bipartisan exchanges with the president.

Mitt Romney Greener than Prince Charles--or Al Gore

Governor Mitt Romney was quietly flying economy class home from the Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., when a fellow passenger got angry at being asked to put his seat in a upright position for take off and threatened Governor Romney.

All ended well with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police removing the unruly and, probably now, very sorry passenger. But, the shocker was that Romney had the administrative foresight to book the return trip on a passenger airline in economy seating. It's an action the top Greens don't do.

When is the last time Al Gore was seated in economy? And, of course, Prince Charles uses private jets even when lecturing everyone else about the severe global dangers of not going Green.
AFP Photo

Maybe Gore and the Prince should contact Romney and get tips on how to plan better and reduce one's personal carbon footprint.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Palin Derangement Syndrome Blowback

Oh, the poor Palin haters. Their Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS) is now provoking blowback from even heavy liberals like Joe Klein.

The ridiculous assertions about Palin writing notes on her hand because she couldn't remember her core beliefs has brought Newsweek's Joe Klein to Palin's defense:
"As Jay Newton-Small notes below, Sarah Palin inked some crib notes on her hand in preparation for her "big" speech to the Tea Party soiree. This has caused glee and derision in the left-wing blogosphere (as has her rather, well, unsubtle wearing of a joint US-Israeli flag pin). I have no problem with either gesture. . . . As for the crib notes, all politicians use bullet points. Some use teleprompters. It doesn't matter what you crib. It matters what you say."
Then there is MSNBC's Joe Scarborough claiming that Chris Wallace rolled his eyes in embarrassment upon ending an interview with Palin on Wallace's Sunday interview show.

So, what has to happen? Chris Wallace is asked whether he rolled his eyes, and on the way has to respond not only to that but to Palin's seriousness as a candidate--which is the real issue.

No one would have asked Wallace his take on the interview except for Scarborough's off the wall comment. And Chris Wallace gives a big push back citing not only his own view that Palin did exceptionally well in the interview when he threw lots of heavy questions at her, but Wallace cites Joe Klein and David Broder as witnesses that she is a serious candidate and a serious person.

So, two PDS swipes at Palin have turned out to increase her credibility as a serious presidential candidate, by bringing out unlikely (Joe Klein) and unusual (Chris Wallace) defenders. Palin's opponents are undermining the very point they are trying to camp on: Palin is stupid and not a serious candidate. Jennifer Rubin explains:
[Broder's] sort of unconventional-conventional wisdom is precisely what drives the Palin haters up the wall. Stop taking her seriously! Remember the Tina Fey parodies — she’s a joke! Her critics have gotten used to the luxury of a shared assumption among “serious” pundits that Palin is not ready for the big leagues. They’ve become accustomed to deriding her with cheap jokes and snide references. But along the way, they stopped listening to her and watching how the trajectory of her political development tracked the emergence of a grassroots, anti-statist movement. In their haste to denigrate her gig on Fox, they missed her new-and-improved sound-bite-polished TV delivery. Now along comes the dean of the Beltway to tell them: you guys have been asleep!
Here's what David Broder had to say:
"The snows that obliterated Washington in the past week interfered with many scheduled meetings, but they did not prevent the delivery of one important political message: Take Sarah Palin seriously.*

"Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm."
. . .
"Her invocation of "conservative principles and common-sense solutions" was perfectly conventional. What stood out in the eyes of TV-watching pols of both parties was the skill with which she drew a self-portrait that fit not just the wishes of the immediate audience but the mood of a significant slice of the broader electorate".
[emphasis added]
[*David "she's a joke" Brooks, call your office!]

Broder even compared Palin with (gasp!) Ronald Reagan, not to mention Bill Clinton.
"More important, she has locked herself firmly in the populist embrace that every skillful outsider candidate from George Wallace to Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton has utilized when running against 'the political establishment.'"
The first major hole in the "Palin's stupid" dike was Stanley Fish's positive review of Going Rogue in the New York Times.
"The message is clear. America can’t be stopped. I can’t be stopped. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again. Her political opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was elected, should take note. Wherever you are, you better watch out. Sarah Palin is coming to town."
Yep. The lady's seriousness and political potential is on par with Ronald Reagan's. Even clear-eyed liberals and centrists are seeing that.

Monday, February 08, 2010

"Hi Mom" - Palin's Good-Natured Comeback

Sarah Palin silently poked fun at her critics by writing “Hi Mom” on her hand before speaking at a rally for Governor Rick Perry of Texas. She followed that up by writing “Loggers rock!” on her hand before speaking at a Logging Conference Speech in Redding, California, today.

This was because some on the Left (Huffington Post, MSNBC, CNN) have gone bananas because Sarah Palin had 7 words written on the palm of her hand as reminders for key areas she wanted to emphasize in her time at the National Tea Party Convention Saturday night.

I wonder if any of these critics have ever given a speech before. I have given lots of them and have written main points down so as not to miss talking about one of them.

Most speakers know that in the heat of speaking and connecting with an audience it’s easy to follow a rabbit trail or two on some points and miss emphasizing other points you want to cover.

And sometimes you have to cut content out because of time limitations. So, a reminder of three or four main points to emphasize helps make mental cuts effective while you’re in the heat of giving a speech.

Stefan Sirucek of Huffington Post probably knows this, but his political biases make him follow the most harebrained explanation possible in order to criticize a common tool used by those who give speeches.

Sirucek’s explanation is that Sarah Palin doesn’t know her core beliefs. So, she has to write a word or two to remember them. Sirucek expects us to believe that a politician who has run for Vice-President, been governor of a state and a mayor doesn’t know things any low level political junkie knows about conservatives. They want to:

1. Increase energy supply and options (Though Palin said “drill, baby, drill” hundreds of times in the 2008 campaign, she doesn’t know she believes that?)

2. Cut government spending and taxes (sort of at the core of all fiscal conservative values)

3. Lift American spirits (Does anyone need to be reminded that they believe that? Apparently Sirucek does.)

“Hi Mom” and “Loggers rock!” were the perfect response to Palin’s witless (in both senses) critics. And Palin's comeback was both good-natured and funny. When will her critics learn to be the same?

UPDATE: B.B. in the comments section is so right. Sarah Palin has gotten into their heads so much that Robert Gibbs couldn't help bringing it up at an official White House press briefing!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

President Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address

Governor Palin's address at the National Tea Party Convention yesterday had striking similarities to many of President Reagan's themes. One that both Palin and Reagan stressed was the need to ask for divine help. Another was the belief that real heroes are found among common Americans. It is they, not government, who will fix our current woes, with God's help. And the fixing must begin in government as it begins in individual and family life: living within our budget and not mortgaging our children's future by borrowing and debt.

Reagan's first inaugural address speaks to the same issues we have today.

UPDATE: Here's Sarah Palin's Tea Party address:

H/T Conservatives4Palin (for the Reagan video link)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

824,000 Jobs Will Disappear on February 5th

So, reports Bloomberg. That means that about 824,000 jobs that have been reported as lost recently will be presumed to have been lost 10 to 22 months ago. So, the really bad news was THEN not NOW. Thus, from April 2008 to March 2009, though we thought we had lost 4.8 million jobs, we really lost 5.6 million. Wow, we should have been crying a lot more back then!

You see the Bureau of Labor Statistics is using a, er, "revision" modeling program that "assumes most of the time jobs created at new companies make up for losses at companies that close." It also assumes the economy and employment are bound to grow.

In other words, employment reality, unlike with the global climate, is assumed to remain stable to slightly positive no matter what happens in our little anthropogenic environment. So, in climate terms what reporting agencies need to do is spread the global warming (or cooling) back so it won't have inconvenient waves and troughs.

And the really cool thing is that it will take another year or so for current figures to be revised up or down to align with BLS assumed reality. Which means right now that the model has to account for 824,000 jobs lost in the April 2008 to March 2009 cycle, by assuming that an offsetting 990,000 jobs were created between April 2009 and March 2010.

Unfortunately, if BLS assumptions don't jive with job reality, we may finally find out in 2011 that we didn't really gain almost a million jobs. Maybe we even lost some. Which will mean a another huge negative revision for April 2009 to March 2010 with an even larger (1.8 million?) assumed gain in jobs from April 2010 to March 2011.

Until employment reality starts to line up with BLS assumptions, the job reporting swings could get kind of wild.

H/T OregonGuy

Ronald Reagan--One of Our Greatest Presidents

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. He was born 99 years ago on February 6, 1911.

Reagan's last day as president was 21 years ago. During his eight years as president Reagan set the course of winning the four decades long Cold War that had distressed the seven presidents preceding him. All, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher noted, "without a shot being fired,"

His economic policies also brought the country out of the deep recession of the Carter years. Some statistics on Carter's economy and Reagan's:

7.18% - Carter (1980 - last year in office)
5.49% - Reagan (1988 - last year in office)

13.58% - Carter (1980 - last year in office)
4.08% - Reagan (1988 - last year in office)

misery index:
20.76 - Carter (1980 - last year in office)
9.57 - Reagan (1988 - last year in office)

Just for comparison with the economic problems Reagan faced, the misery index for George W. Bush's last year and Barack Obama's first year were:
9.61 - Bush (2008 - last year in office)
8.92 - Obama (2009 - first year in office)

Reagan confronted a misery index more than twice what either Bush or Obama have contended with. The economy was in a mess after Jimmy Carter's presidency.

Reagan had to deal with a nation in economic crisis as well as the Cold War with the prospect of nuclear destruction of the U.S. and the world. No other president has overcome such a dire threat to the nation and the world.

Ronald Reagan is already regarded by historians as one of the top 10 presidents. As political biases fade with the years, I predict he will rise to the top 4 along with Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Washington and Lincoln have to be in the top two because the nation's existence was at stake. FDR faced a worse economy than Reagan, but the military threat to the U.S. was not as great in World War II (military attacks) as it was during the Cold War (total physical destruction). And over 400,000 Americans lost their lives in the course of winning World War II not to mention strict economic rationing imposed on the entire nation. In that context, Reagan's winning the Cold War without a shot being fired and with a flourishing civilian economy is quite an accomplishment.

His political critics called him a B-grade actor and laughed at his falling asleep in meetings and lack of ability to spew out facts and statistics. But Ronald Reagan had courage, insight and wisdom that none of them had. And he had vision. Fortunately for all of us, he (and we) have had the last laugh.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Few Photos of Vista House and the Gorge

I went up to Portland Women's Forum Viewpoint a couple of times last week and got some nice photos. Tuesday, nearing sunset, the lighting was incredible.

Crown Point

Columbia River Gorge

Wednesday the moon peeked out of the clouds over Vista House for about 50 seconds.

Moon over Vista House

Mighty pretty country!

Oregon Again #1--in Unemployment Claims Increase

The Associated Press reports that Oregon has again garnered the dubious distinction of leading the states in highest increase in jobless claims in the U.S.
Among the states, Oregon reported the largest increase in claims, with 4,336. Puerto Rico and Hawaii also reported increases.
And indeed, according to today's Oregon Employment Department release, Oregon's jobless claims went up almost 1% again last week, after climbing more than 1% just the week before.
More than 217,000 claimed benefits, up more than 2,000 from the previous week and more than 65,000 from the same time a year ago.
A tiny bit of positive news is that the average unemployment check dropped $2.00 from the week before's $295.43 to last week's $293.39.

H/T Drudge Report

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

48% Increase in Oregonians Receiving Unemployment

More than 215,000 Oregonians were receiving unemployment as of January 23, 2010. This compares with about 145,000 in the same week of January, 2009. That's a 48% increase in a year.

It's also up 1% from the previous week's 212,249.

On the positive side, telephone wait time at unemployment insurance centers has dropped from an average of 40 minutes last year to 10 minutes this year.

Monday, February 01, 2010

US Judge Grants Political Asylum to German Couple Facing Persecution

Because of official government policy which views homeschoolers as a "parallel society" that needs to be stamped out, Germany is persecuting homeschoolers not only with excessive fines and imprisonment but by taking their children.
"'There is no safety for homeschoolers in Germany,' [Mike] Donnelly [staff attorney and director of international relations for Home School Legal Defense Associaton] said. 'The two highest courts in Germany have ruled that it is acceptable for the German government to ‘stamp out’ homeschoolers as some kind of ‘parallel society.’ The reasoning is flawed. The fact is that homeschoolers are not a parallel society. Valid research shows that homeschoolers excel academically and socially. German courts are simply ignoring the truth that exists all over the world where homeschooling is practiced. They need to look beyond their own borders.'"
The Associated Press reports that a German couple threatened with the loss of their children was recently granted political asylum by a U.S. immigration judge in Tennessee.

Uwe Romeike, his wife and five children fled to the U.S. after being hit with fines totaling about $10,000 in the space of two years. Worse than the financial impact was the threat that the German state would seize the Romeike's children. So the Romeike's sought asylum in the U.S. in 2008.

German law requires that children attend a state approved school whether public or private. Even though the quality of the children's education was never an issue, in October 2006 German officials came to the Romeike home and forced the three oldest children to attend public school.

Unfortunately, the threat from the German government to stamp out homeschooling has already resulted in the removal of another homeschooling family's children.
This isn’t the only case of a German family facing the wrath of state sponsored schools negating the rights of parents to guide their own children’s education. In 2009 the Wunderlich family had their children seized by French officials at the behest of German authorities for the family’s violation of official German schooling policies.
Though the French are cooperating with the German crackdown, the ruling by U.S. Judge Lawrence Burman has put an obstacle in the path of the German attempt to break up German homeschool families.

The echoes of German statism of the 1930's and 40's in this policy are a bit too real for comfort.