January 31, 2011
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: KILL THE INTERNET “KILL SWITCH.”
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: KILL THE INTERNET “KILL SWITCH.”
“BECAUSE THIS TIME, IT REALLY IS PERSONAL:” Michael Walsh will be spending more time at The Corner.
MARKDOWNS ON portable DVD players.
INTERESTED IN DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS? Check out Bill Quick’s discussion forum.
UPDATE: Reader Robert Balkenhol says that this tool should be part of your emergency preparation. Yes, and know where your water and gas shutoff valves are, and make sure the tool fits.
THINKING OF GETTING AN MBA? Think Twice.
WHITE HOUSE FLUMMOXED? “I think it’s a bit curious that the White House would send an ‘anonymous’ official to criticize the ruling of an Article III judge, and surpassingly curious that a gaggle of reporters would agree to respect the aide’s anonymity in exchange for the ‘anonymous’ quotes. Shouldn’t the reporters either tell the official to go on the record, or refuse to take part in a ‘briefing’ that amounts to simply a colorful attack on an unfavorable opinion?”
UPDATE: An analysis of the opinion here, and another one from Ilya Somin here. The judge appears to have adopted what Dave Kopel and I have elsewhere called the “non-infinity principle” — the notion that “for a Commerce Clause rationale to be acceptable under Lopez, it must not be a rationale that would allow Congress to legislate on everything.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: White House caught unprepared. And, apparently, blew the severability argument.
Much more here: “I’ve often said that I think the Washington Post is the most respectable voice of the Democratic Party, but that paper’s instant analysis of Judge Vinson’s decision, by Ezra Klein, is pathetic. Klein has no legal training, and it shows. His reaction to the decision is shrill, partisan, and unencumbered by any knowledge of the law.” You want informed legal analysis, you got to Jennifer Rubin. You want the JournoList talking points, you go to Klein. Either way, the WaPo’s got you covered.
Plus this: “There is, obviously, considerable humor value in seeing a kid who is on record as believing that the Constitution is too ‘confusing’ to be understood, since it is more than 100 years old, trying to critique the constitutional analysis of a federal judge with almost 40 years of experience as a lawyer and 27 years as a judge. But is the Washington Post really in the business of providing its readers with that sort of amusement?” Obviously, the answer is yes!
ANOTHER UPDATE: ObamaCare Hoisted On Obama’s Petard. “I had forgotten that Obama himself once upon a time took seriously the broccoli hypothetical.”
THIS WEEK IN THE FUTURE.
THE COUNTRY MAY BE BROKE, but keep those theater subsidies coming!
WIKIPEDIA: Less than 15% of its contributors are female. But remember, this doesn’t reflect badly on women’s willingness to toil for the common good. Instead it’s evidence of sexism at Wikipedia or something. Now if the genders were reversed, it would be because men were selfish or lazy or whatever.
UPDATE: Thoughts from Little Miss Attila.
SOME DISASTER-PREPAREDNESS ADVICE from Jed Babbin.
THE RIPPED AND THE RIGHTEOUS: It’s good to be healthy and fit, but physical fitness isn’t a form of moral superiority. It’s not even evidence of moral superiority.
FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN OBAMACARE. “A federal judge declared the Obama administration’s health care overhaul unconstitutional Monday, siding with 26 states that argued people cannot be required to buy health insurance.”
SCIENCE: Men should concentrate on playing with their children and leave the care to women. “Fathers should stick to just playing with their children as their efforts to look after them just end in arguments with their wives, a study claims.” Not my experience, but hey, who am I to argue with science?
A SHORTCUT TO designer nanostructures?
LIST: Memorable Movie Hitmen.
JON HUNTSMAN WILL RESIGN HIS AMBASSADORSHIP TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012: I’m told that the Utah Tea Party folks aren’t thrilled.
THE CARNIVAL OF SPACE IS UP!
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Molecular machine switches magnetic state at room temperature.
ETHICS: Conflict of interests for ranking Democrat on House Ethics Committee. “Linda Sanchez became the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee after the departure of former chair Zoe Lofgren last week, and therefore helps control the actions of the evenly-split panel. That creates a conflict of interest in the committee’s most high-profile case, that of Maxine Waters, whose legal counsel is related to Sanchez’ chief of staff — and who represented Sanchez and her sister in an earlier ethics probe.”
IT’S AS IF ALL THAT “NEW CIVILITY” TALK WAS JUST A PLOY TO SHUT DOWN DEBATE: “Showing no concern for the new civility push that followed the Arizona massacre, a group of leftist activists from groups including Code Pink, Common Cause and jewel of liberal think tanks, the Center for American Progress, turned into a loud mob complete with Nazi imagery outside a conservative gathering in Rancho Mirage, California.”
UPDATE: Say, you think some enterprising reporter will ask Obama or a spokesman whether the President condemns this sort of behavior? No, me neither.
ROBERT REDFORD, ENVIRONMENTAL HYPOCRITE? Well, on the environmental front, “celebrity” pretty much always equals “hypocrite,” unless your name is Ed Begley, Jr. Who, to be blunt, isn’t much of a celebrity these days anyway.
UPDATE: Reader Matthew Moss writes:
Is Robert Redford still a celebrity? Not according to my children, who have no idea who Robert Redford is or ever was. Likewise Warren Beatty, though my oldest thought he might be the fat guy who was raped by hillbillies in Deliverance. ‘That was Ned dear, not Warren.’ ‘No idea then, Dad.’
Strangely, all three knew Clint Eastwood.
Doesn’t seem so strange to me.
ANOTHER YEAR, another racially insensitive cafeteria menu.
JENNIFER RUBIN: “It’s supposed to be flattering, but Maureen Dowd’s interview makes David Axelrod sound like an overwhelmed political consultant.”
WEAK HORSE: Obama And The Ripple Effect.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Mad Meat Making Scientist Proves Climate Doomsayers Wrong. “If he’s right, and if lab produced meat turns out to be practical and tasty, some big changes are coming — and I’m not just talking about heated debates over how the rules of kashrut and halal apply to artificial pork that has never touched or been touched by a pig or pig byproducts.”
TODAY ONLY: 42″ LCD HDTV for $599.
HOW TO SAVE REAL MONEY IN D.C.
Related: Consumer spending rises more than expected. Which sounds good, except for this: “U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in December to post the sixth straight month of gains as households drew down on their savings to fund purchases, government data showed on Monday.” If people are drawing down their savings — “savings dropped to their lowest level since March” — is that a good sign?
UPDATE: Reader John Reece emails:
It might be worth a post reminding readers of the dust-up a few months ago between Sarah “Stupid” Palin and Nobel-prize-winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman over whether there was any food price inflation. “Stupid” said yes citing actual supermarket price experience, Mr. Nobel Prize Winner sneered no, citing US government statistics. I’d say events have her winning it by knockout.
Meanwhile, another reader thinks I’m missing the real story on consumer spending:
We know that with QE2 we have inflation in our future. So isn’t consumers drawing down on savings and buying “things” now a rational response? Holding on to the money means the money will buy less in the future. This is part of why QE2 will potentially provide potemkin economic improvement for 2012 while making the subsequent 4 years worse. Which of course raises the question “Does Obama really want to be president with a GOP majority congress?”
That’s an interesting angle. And yeah, if you think you’re going to be buying things with million-dollar bills later, maybe it makes sense not to defer purchases.
OAK RIDGE UPDATE: The Future of Warhead-Making at Y-12.
PERHAPS THIS IS WHY SO MANY CITIES AND STATES ARE BROKE: Almost half Nassau’s cops got more than $150G.
SYRIA’S BASHAR AL-ASSAD: It’s Time For Reform: “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited a regime that has held power for four decades, said he will push for more political reforms in his country, in a sign of how Egypt’s violent revolt is forcing leaders across the region to rethink their approaches.”
VIOLENCE: Lefty protest arrests vs. Tea Party.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH offers enlightenment to the ignorant.
L.A. TIMES: Overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties tell GOP to heed the ‘tea party’. Also, only 13% want to keep ObamaCare as it is.
I MAY HAVE HEARD BIGGER LIES, BUT OFFHAND I CAN’T THINK OF ANY: MSNBC V.P.: “MSNBC Does Not Have A Political Agenda.” And I am Marie of Roumania.
This is more like the truth: “Palin is MSNBC’s Emmanuel Goldstein, the fictional villain from Orwell’s 1984. Their coverage (and that of much of the MSM) amounts to a daily two minute hate which serves their political and business interests even if–-as in the case of the Arizona shootings-–it has little to do with reality.”
WELL, STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW, I GUESS: While the Middle East burns and America goes broke, Charles Schumer opines on bath salts.
A ROUNDUP OF public finance and pensions news. Mostly bad.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: At most N.J. colleges, freshmen have less than 50 percent chance of graduating in 4 years.
TOM SMITH: The last thing I have to say about Tiger Mothers I hope. “But here’s the thing. And here the point has been made easier to make by the curious fact that Tiger Mom is a Yale Law School professor and as Professor Bainbridge has pointed out, it seems almost an epidemic among faculty parents in New Haven. My fear is that little tiger kittens are not being groomed to make things that you and I can buy if we feel like it. I’m afraid, call me paranoid if you like, that those little achievers will want to grow up to, well, rule. . . . Then I worry that all this fierce intelligence, all this ambition, all this work are going toward the building of world in which my children will be mere, well, what do you call the people who support those who so intelligently manage things from on top. Not to mention the unbelievably well educated 35 year old who will tell me someday I didn’t score well enough in some algorithm I can’t even understand to get my arteries bypassed or my prostate cancer treated. I want to live in a world, and I want my children to as well, where we are free individuals, and geniuses can sell us stuff if we want to buy it. When I suspect the little elites of tomorrow are just being made more formidable still, it excites not my admiration as much as my anxiety.”
SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS: Pointers From The Past.
“SHE’S SO GOOD-LOOKING THAT SHE LOOKS LIKE A MAN:” Transsexual model stirs Brazil fashion show.
ANNE BAYEFSKY: Mohammed El Baradei – The Iranian Frontman.
MORE HOLLYWOOD RACISM: Little diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees.
AS LOOTING AND CRIME EXPLODE, Egyptians create local armed militias. This will generally happen spontaneously most anywhere law and order breaks down.
TRIBALISM in the Middle East.
AT AMAZON, markdowns in sports and outdoors.
THOUGHTS ON EGYPT from Barry McAffrey. “We have few good options. The President and Secretary Clinton are carefully walking the line. Oddly enough— only the last Administration with President Bush and Secretary Condi Rice has ever taken a strong reform position with Mubarak.”
BORDERS BOOKS teetering on bankruptcy?
BUT WE’VE GOT OBAMACARE! China Moving Ahead On Thorium Molten-Salt Reactors.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH GREECE? Ask An Entrepreneur. “Sitting in his office, Mr. Politopoulos took a long pull from a glass of his premium Vergina wheat beer and said it was absurd that he had to lobby Greek politicians to repeal a 19th-century law so that he could deliver the exports that Greece urgently needed. And, he said, his predicament was even worse than that: it was emblematic of the web of restrictions, monopolies and other distortions that have made many Greek companies uncompetitive, and pushed the country close to bankruptcy.”
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS’ ETHICAL BODY: With pictures.
FRANCES FOX PIVEN: “She wouldn’t even harm a fly.” “In the course of this brouhaha, it becomes apparent that leftist academics don’t want to be and should not be taken seriously, that the cultural elite can dish out violent rhetoric but cannot take being called on it, that the NYT has blundered into another loser of an argument, and that people who want to waste their tuition money should major in sociology, which has obviously become the redoubt of clueless, revolutionary manqués. . . . Piven denied to the NYT that she advocated violence in the article. It’s hard to see how that defense stands up, unless she is saying that she didn’t know what happened in Greece when she urged the American unemployed to take action ‘like the strikes and riots’ there.”
Here’s a reminder of what Piven’s “strikes and riots” in Greece involved:
At the same time, tens of thousands of protesters marched through Athens in the largest and most violent protests since the country’s budget crisis began last fall. Angry youths rampaged through the center of Athens, torching several businesses and vehicles and smashing shop windows. Protesters and police clashed in front of parliament and fought running street battles around the city.
Witnesses said hooded protesters smashed the front window of Marfin Bank in central Athens and hurled a Molotov cocktail inside. The three victims died from asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, the Athens coroner’s office said. Four others were seriously injured there, fire department officials said.
Just for the record. And here’s the conclusion:
In sum, this was another week in which the media and cultural elites acted stupidly and were called on it. Twice in a row now they’ve tried to paint their opposition as violent thugs only to be revealed themselves as snobbish poseurs, projecting their own thuggish urges onto others. It was another week in which those living off the productive labor of others deride those others, try to undermine them, and are in the process undermining the very society which makes it possible for such foolish poseurs to live in comfort.
ROGER KIMBALL: The British disease, coming soon to a bureaucracy near you.
THOUGHTS ON closing post offices. “Unlike businesses in the private sector who have experienced a decrease in customer traffic or business, rather than improve service, increase product offerings, or cut prices, the USPS has chosen to continuously raise the cost of postage, and not offer new services. While the argument may be that rates need to be raised to keep up with inflation and increased costs, the increases simply force more customers into online bill paying, email, and the competition (FedEx and UPS).”
THEY CALL IT THE STUPID PARTY FOR A REASON:
The House Republicans’ first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.
A House panel chaired by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss forcing Internet providers, and perhaps Web companies as well, to store records of their users’ activities for later review by police.
One focus will be on reviving a dormant proposal for data retention that would require companies to store Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for two years, CNET has learned.
Tomorrow’s data retention hearing is juxtaposed against the recent trend to protect Internet users’ privacy by storing less data. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission called for “limited retention” of user data on privacy grounds, and in the last 24 hours, both Mozilla and Google have announced do-not-track technology.
Good grief. Bad move. Don’t do it.
UPDATE: On Facebook, Calvin Gordon Dodge comments: “I have an idea. Given that politicians are far more dangerous than the average person (since politicians wield far more power), let’s require that they keep track off all THEIR activity, and make it accessible to their employers (us) for 2 years.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reade Roy Horton emails: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. They are the stupid party.”
BRITISH MET OFFICE changed temperature data for press release to make 2010 look hotter than it was.
DAVID WARREN IS not too hopeful about Egypt. I hope he’s wrong.
WILL OBAMA BE “the President who lost Egypt?” Well, stay tuned.
But Chris Matthews is already warming up the blame-Bush narrative. Well, I guess it all started when the first Bush seized Egypt’s Panama Canal.
Meanwhile, Mike Rappaport agrees with my take.
ADVICE TO THE EGYPTIAN PROTESTERS from Andrew Exum.
TIGER MOMS and government schooling.
MARKDOWNS ON Swiss Army Knives and Multitools.
OBAMA’S DIPLOMACY: A matter of “neglect and disregard.”
RADLEY BALKO: “Do You Want Me To Throw It on the Ground?” “What is clear is that the officers are harassing a man who is legally recording the incident from a distance that in no way physically interferes with what the police are doing. One officer threatens to destroy his camera if he doesn’t put it away. Toward the end, several more officers confront the man again. One of them then tells him he’ll be ‘locked up’ for disobeying an order unless he stops recording.”
HEH: NPR: Why Bacon Is A “Gateway Meat” For Vegetarians. Is there anything it can’t do?
DAILY BEAST: PALIN ROCKS THE HOUSE IN GUN COUNTRY, WARNS OF NEW GUN CONTROL EFFORTS FROM OBAMA. “Palin isn’t the first politician to address an SCI convention; George H.W. Bush and Tom Ridge, among others, have beaten her to the punch. But she may be the most zeitgeist-y.”
POPULAR SCIENCE: The Perils Of An “Internet Kill Switch.” What could go wrong? Plenty.
PNEUMONIA BACTERIA EVOLVE to resist antibiotics and vaccines.
POLITICAL WIRE: “A Wilson Research Strategies (R) poll shows two Republicans within striking distance of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).”
UPDATE: Reader Fred Nixon is troubled by the use of the term “striking distance” and writes: “Is there no end to the violent rhetoric at PoliticalWire?”
USHA RODRIGUEZ: A Students = Academics; C Students = Billionaires? “So apparently there was a session at Davos’ World Economic Forum that pitted Larry Summers against Amy Chua, Tiger Mom. No, I am not making this up.”
ARE JAPAN’S PUBLIC FINANCES AT A TIPPING POINT? “By some measures Japan is in a worse mess than Greece and Ireland.”
AT AMAZON, up to 70% off on men’s boots.
ISRAELI REPORTS “friendly atmosphere” in Cairo. “The attitude towards us as Israelis and tourist is very friendly. Actually, they’re overly nice compared to my previous visits in Egypt. The Egyptians want to explain themselves, to tell everyone about their struggle. They speak Arabic over here so it’s easy to communicate with them. On Friday we went right past the demonstrations on our way back from the pyramids, and people helped us get though the crowd.”
TOOLS THAT EVERYONE SHOULD OWN. I don’t use my sledgehammer much, but when I do, it’s very satisfying.
UPDATE: Lou Dolinar emails: “1) Hand truck (ideally with caterpillar for going up stairs) and 2) furniture dolly. Moving large objects is an essential home improvement skill, and will inevitably wreck your back as you get older. Better to take care when you’re young.” Yeah. I’ve got a dolly; I’d rent the caterpillar thing because it’s not something I use much.
RICHARD FERNANDEZ: A major diplomatic failure is underway.
TRANSLATED: The Egyptian Activists’ Action Plan. I think it’s safe for me to link this one now.
A TREADMILL WITH A BUILT-IN WEB BROWSER. That’s what I need!
CLINT EASTWOOD BACKS THE FLAT TAX.
Another sign of the coming middle class anarchy? If the middle class gives up on the rule of law, beware.
UPDATE: A reader who requests anonymity emails:
This is something I have thought about a lot, and is an important story. There are so many important stories, it’s easy
to miss a long term one, like this. Everyone agrees the possibility of a middle class, and its belief in the fairness of the system has been one of the main drivers, in differentiating America, maybe the most important.
We now have a system that increasingly, means you have to either work for or sell to the government, or have its blessing through interpretation of the rules and regulations to operate. We see the favored and connected moving forward regardless of actions. Here in TN, they are building a Volkswagen plant and Nissan USA moved to Nashville with private funds, but the favored were bailed out because of Big Labor. We see the out of favor not be allowed to drill for oil or receive permits for coal, as easy examples. We see the bond and shareholders of large financial firms protected by changes in accounting rules, and given liquidity using failing loans as collateral at 100 cents on the dollar, while community banks are closed or merged out weekly.
We read monthly of large firm “settlements” of civil fraud, and other deeds, that would make any smaller business close their doors, because of shame, lawsuits or being barred from any new business, But those firms pay some money, and are valued guests at the White House and mainly at fundraisers.
We read that large multinationals through overseas subsidiaries, pay single digit US taxes, keeping the money overseas. While the smaller companies I am associated with, pay the full rate. We have no Irish solution to taxation. We read that a repatriation holiday probably will be allowed. We know that Hedge funds pay at the Capital Gains rate, while we pay at regular rates.
We have 10-20 million “guest” workers, that have to work off the books, which means all their employers, have to pay “off the books, so everyone is learning to break the law together. Unless the government needs a headline and an arrest, all are fine, so, why not do the same with Non Guest Workers ?
Anyone of us can go on and on with examples, probably better ones. The point is, the people and companies that do everything “by the book”, are like the Redcoats in the revolutionary war, using an old system, matching down the middle of the economic battlefield. The people that are connected, or simply ignore the rules are hiding behind the trees and rocks, shooting at the system.
Now the middle class knows, we do not have the money, lawyers and connections, to get away with as much as the larger firms, so most people will not attempt as much. But the belief system is being eroded, and quickly, like the banks of a full river, iT takes some time, but the water is brown with the eroded soil.
But more and more, I feel stupid for playing by the rules, and I know I am not alone. Because the rules are no longer what I thought they were all my life.
The new system is get what you can, and throw away the old fashioned economic moralities.
Everybody loses in such a system, but at least they don’t feel so much like suckers. As I’ve noted before, while Obama has been accused of not appreciating the role of financial capital, he’s even more ignorant — or unconcerned — about the importance of moral capital. But you cannot run a prosperous, civilized country without it.
However, if the middle class asserts itself it can change things for the better instead. That’s why so many fear the Tea Party movement.
UPDATE: A high-school friend emails:
Had to chime in on this one.
In the 80’s a thought struck me. The extraction of resources and creation of wealth in our country had produced the middle class as a by-product, not as a desired goal. The new “natural resource” available for plunder was now the wealth accumulated by the middle class.
I assumed that robber barons and snake-oil salesmen would arise to attempt this feat, but it never occurred to me that a collusion of our own government, unions and financiers would organize to kill the golden goose. I also never thought the voters would line up in sufficient numbers to be lambs for the slaughter.
I sure love my country. I would never do to her what this collection of S.O.B.s has done.
I’m hanging on to hope that we can ride out this storm. I think we can.
Me too. Some additional effort from our so-called leaders would be nice, though.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Some somewhat-related thoughts from Jerry Pournelle.
WHEN HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLES EXPLODE:
So if it isn’t politics or economics, what is it that lead the people of Tunisia to rise up and overthrow their government?
Tunisia’s big problem is said to be unemployment. But unemployment there is running at somewhere between 13 percent and 14 percent, which isn’t really so bad. The real problem is that Tunisia cannot create suitable employment for the huge numbers of college graduates it creates every year.
That’s right: the education bubble popped in Tunisia.
Tunisia has a gigantic education apparatus that has earned it plaudits for years. Free university education is guaranteed to anyone who passes the government’s exams at the end of high school. As a result, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 university graduates enter the job market every year. Fifty-seven percent of young Tunisians entering the labor market are college educated.
It turns out that creating a large class of college-educated workers is not necessarily a recipe for prosperity. Tunisia has discovered it can be a recipe for political unrest and mass unemployment. For Tunisia’s recent college graduates, the unemployment level reaches to at least 30 percent. If you count in various forms of under-employment, it’s safe to say that as many as half of Tunisia’s recent college graduates are losing out in the jobs market.
Tunisia has clearly over-invested in higher education. It is spending 7.2 percent of its GDP on education, more than any European or North American country that isn’t Denmark (which manages to spend 7.9 percent of GDP on education) or Iceland (7.5 percent). It’s a very typical malinvestment bubble: keep spending based on expected returns that don’t materialize, and suddenly find yourself with a worthless asset. Whether it’s dot com sites selling pet food, homes near Las Vegas, or really well-educated Tunisians the results are the same.
Luckily, nothing like that can happen here.
HEH: Photo: Two Retail Stores With Sexual Tension.
“PENNSYLVANIA IS NOT A THIRD-WORLD COUNTRY.”
NOT THE SHARPEST KNIFE IN THE MSNBC DRAWER: Chris Matthews, who derides Palin as stupid, says Panama Canal is in… EGYPT! It is, of course, the kind of mistake anyone can make on the air. But it’s true — if Palin made it, it would be proof of stupidity. So, goose, meet gander.
I GUESS THAT MEANS I NEED TO COME OUT WITH MY OWN LINE OF SUITS: the Johnny Carson of the digital age?