Archives for: August 2014

Clinton Life

I must admit, I always had a soft spot for Chelsea Clinton. Not that I liked her or anything but that I felt bad for someone thrust into the national spotlight during the most awkward years of her life (Rush Limbaugh, on his TV show, famously said the Clinton White House had finally gotten a dog and then showed an unflattering picture of the then 13-year-old Chelsea). There was a story that circulated toward the end of the Clinton years about her drinking in Colorado and being a bit wild. And my reaction was, “Well, good for her.”

However, my sympathy does not extend to what looks to me like blatant corruption:

Chelsea Clinton has left her job as a special correspondent for NBC News, a position that she has held since November 2011, the network has confirmed. In a statement on the departure, NBC News senior vice president Alex Wallace said, “We are thankful for all of Chelsea’s contributions to NBC News over the past 3 years. Chelsea’s storytelling inspired people across the country and showcased the real power we have as individuals to make a difference in our communities. While she will be missed, we look forward to working with her in the future.”

Like me, you’re probably thinking: “what contributions?” Clinton did some occasional reporting for NBC but it amounted to maybe an hour total over the last three years. For that contributions, she was paid a nominal salary of … holy shit.

Those stories were neither sufficiently frequent nor momentous to earn Clinton the respect of her colleagues and the NBC News brain trust. Her standing within the network appeared to suffer a hit when Politico revealed earlier this year that she had been earning annual pay in the range of $600,000 — or nearly $27,000 for each minute of airtime. That was far above the pay level of an average network correspondent, even one with years of experience; Clinton was a rookie in the craft at the time of her first piece for NBC News in 2011.

Clinton is not the only scion of a political dynasty getting such a gig, although I’m dubious that the others are as lucrative. Jenna Bush and Meghan McCain also got commentary bits. But then again, neither of their dads is likely to President in the near future; Chelsea’s mom at least has a shot at it. The only thing remotely comparable I can think of in recent years was Bristol Palin’s six-figure gig promoting abstinence. But even that was a third of what Chelsea was making.

Is this bribery? It looks like it …. but … it’s actually not that unusual. The media-politics gravy train is absolutely loaded with this kind of bullshit. Politicians, their aides, their lawyers, their kids and their allies walk right out of the halls of power into well-paying commentary gigs and jobs. And then frequently walk right back into power. Many of them get five- and six-figure speaking fees, including Hillary Clinton. Many get massive salaries on corporate boards or university faculty. And, as I’ve noted before, no matter how wrong they’ve been, no matter how much they’ve fucked up, no matter what disastrous policy they’ve led this country into, the train of speaking fees, commentary gigs, board appointments and academic appointments never stops. If you’ve wrecked the country, that’s just proof that you need to be a Professor at Harvard with a column in the Washington Post.

We really do have a ruling class in this country. And Chelsea is just the latest iteration. The absurd level of the bribery — a per minute salary 30 times greater than that of Alex Rodriguez — rubs our noses in it. But the unusual thing about this is that it’s not that unusual.

A Shooting in Nevada

By now, you have no doubt hear about this:

A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her left side, trying to guide her. A video of the shooting, which her parents recorded on a cellphone, suggests that the girl, in pink shorts and with a braided ponytail, was unable to control the gun’s recoil; the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he died Monday night.

The parents turned over the cellphone video to the sheriff’s department, which released it publicly. As they spread online and on television, the images of a small girl losing control of a powerful war weapon during a family vacation created a worldwide spectacle, prompting some commentators to castigate parents who would put a submachine gun in the hands of a child.

There is a video, which I won’t post, that runs up to right before the fatal shot.

I have to agree with the criticism of the parents. I’m pro-gun. I was taken to shooting ranges as a kid and I might one day take my kids. But I would not give them a weapon like an Uzi, which is notoriously difficult to control. I would probably not give a gun to a 9-year-old and, if I did, it wouldn’t be anything more dangerous than a .22. The instructor should have known better. But at least his family is being classy and expressing their concern for the girl, who is going to have to live with this for the rest of her life.

Naturally, the gun grabbers are trying to make a lot of this. But:

Does the Arizona episode mean we live in a whacko gun culture? Those saying yes are going to remind you of a 2008 case in which an 8-year-old Massachusetts boy—under adult supervision at a gun club—accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi and died. Those saying no, guns are as American as apple pie, will point out, accurately, that for years, the number of accidental shootings has been declining, along with overall gun deaths. By those measures, we’re becoming a safer country, even as some parents defy common sense and put machine guns in the hands of little kids.

I think that’s something we have to keep in mind every time a tragedy like this occurs. Gun violence is down. Gun accidents are down. Almost all of the people who shoot guns recreationally do so without incident — mostly because they are smart enough not to put machine guns in the hands of children.

Toward a European War

Over the last week, Russia has been slowly dropping the pretense and invading the Ukraine with active troops, tanks and artillery pieces. Many of these soldiers, as with the earlier incursion into the crimea, are pretending to be rebels, which is technically a war crime.

As has been pointed out, the Ukraine is not the limit of Putin’s ambitions. He has claimed that he will rescue all ethnic Russians who are “threatened” which means the baltic states and Poland could be on their target list.

The West is finally responding. The plan is to deploy troops to the new NATO bases in Eastern Europe as well as to provide military aide to the Ukraine. I would suggest that reviving missile defense would be another good step.

This sets up the potential for a wider war. But it’s something we are obligated to do under the NATO treaty. We’ll just have to hope that the prospect of tangling with an actual military force is enough to give Putin some pause.

Want to see some serious double standards in play?

While everyone remains focused on what happened in Ferguson and the LSM is milking it for all its worth while presenting very little factual information – must be an election year or something, and the demcorats need something to get their voters to the polls – we get this laughable story. There are two things in the story that caught my eye. Here is the first:

A rural Mississippi man suffered life-threatening injuries and required brain surgery after he entered a Waffle House despite receiving a warning not to enter the restaurant because of the color of his skin.

The severe beating occurred early Sunday morning around 2 a.m., reports The Clarion-Ledger. Up to 20 assailants participated.

The injured man is Ralph Weems IV, a veteran of the Iraq War and a Marine. He is white.

The altercation began at about 1 a.m. when Weems and a friend, David Knighten, chose to go inside the Waffle House. They made this decision after a man in the parking lot diplomatically suggested that they should leave because the patrons inside were angry about the Aug. 9 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Thus, the unidentified man explained, the restaurant would not be a safe place for two white people.

Can you imagine telling a minority something like this? Even if your intentions are as pure as the driven snow and your motive is to protect them? yeah, well that’s not the part that chafes. So fast forward a bit and you get:

ZKnighten added: “I do remember racial slurs being yelled from the crowd.”

Police failed to arrive on the scene until the crowd had dispersed.

“This does not appear to be a hate crime,” local police chief Tim Brinkley said, according to The Times-Picayune. “It’s very early in this investigation but thus far the evidence and statements suggest that a verbal altercation turned physical and somebody got hurt.”

Yeah sure Mr. police chief. Again, reverse the races of the victim and perps, and how do you think this would be playing out? Of course, this was racially motivated, and revelations like this one should leave no one with any doubt who are the ones making things worse. The last time the evil white man, oh, pardon me, the white Hispanic, was the catalyst for their push the vote agenda. I guess when you have a winning formula, you just keep going back to it.

Our police forces are over militarized and need to be restructured, but our media is a despicable political stooge of the biggest criminals to run the nation, and IMO far greater threat and problem for our democracy’s survival than the militarized agents of the nanny state. Things are only going to get worse because of these people. Don’t you trust that these collectivists or their stooges have any good intent at any time. It’s about power for these bastards, and nothing more.

Fake 3-D universe? (UPDATE: or worse?)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is about to start an unique experiment called the Holometer from which they hope to determine if we really live in a 2-D universe faking 3 dimensions or if the universe really is 3 -D.

Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3 – D world exists only on a 2 – D screen, we could be clueless that our 3 – D space is just an illusion. The information about everything in our universe could actually be encoded in tiny packets in two dimensions.

Get close enough to your TV screen and you’ll see pixels, small points of data that make a seamless image if you stand back. Scientists think that the universe’s information may be contained in the same way, and that the natural “pixel size” of space is roughly 10 trillion trillion times smaller than an atom, a distance that physicists refer to as the Planck scale.

“We want to find out whether spacetime is a quantum system just like matter is,” said Craig Hogan, director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics and the developer of the holographic noise theory. “If we see something, it will completely change ideas about space we’ve used for thousands of years.”

Quantum theory suggests that it is impossible to know both the exact location and the exact speed of subatomic particles. If space comes in 2-D bits with limited information about the precise location of objects, then space itself would fall under the same theory of uncertainty . The same way that matter continues to jiggle (as quantum waves) even when cooled to absolute zero, this digitized space should have built-in vibrations even in its lowest energy state.

That’s an interesting take on things. And how does time fit in the whole picture? Heck, there are those that say that that the whole thing is wrong and that mass nor dimensions are real, but by products of nteraction of particles. Does this invalidate the chance for green chicks with hyper sex drives like the “Star Trek” ones? Better yet: can flat chested ladies now claim they are not since it is all an illusion? Inquiring minds want to know.

Now if they could only come up with an experiment that explains why liberals live in la-la land and refuse to let reality intrude on their fantasies of what thing should be like. That would rock the universe as we know it.

Home of the Whopper

So this is happening:

Burger King may be the home of the Whopper, but Canada may be the new home of Burger King.

The restaurant operator said on Sunday that it was in talks to buy Tim Hortons, the Canadian doughnut-and-coffee chain, in a potential deal that would create one of the world’s biggest fast-food businesses.

If completed, the deal would mean Burger King’s corporate headquarters would move to Canada, raising the specter of yet another American company switching its national citizenship to lower its tax bill.

As you can image, the Left Wing is going apeshit, accusing Burger King of being unpatriotic and putting shareholders in front of communities, people, employees, the environment, the cosmos, God, king and country.

But Burger King is hardly the only company contemplating this kind of tax inversion. Numerous companies have over $2 trillion overseas that they won’t repatriate because our government, rather uniquely, double taxes overseas earnings. We also have an unholy mess of a corporate tax system which has a nominally high rate but many loopholes. The system is so bad that Canada — with all its maple syrup, hockey and French — is now considered a tax haven.

(Also note that this move would just change Burger King’s tax burden. It won’t change anything else like how many people they employ or what they pay them. So the supposed “betrayal” is simply a lowering of their tax burden. To BK’s critics, a company’s primary patriotic duty is apparently to pay as much in taxes as possible.)

But it’s much more fun to gnash your teeth about the evil machinations of a big corporation that to, you know, work the problem that Republicans have been talking about for years.

SWEET!

I can’t help but rejoyce at the news that lefty dominated media is getting hammered.

Some 550 buyouts are to be offered at Time Warner’s Turner network this week, including a large number of those at CNN and HLN, which will lead to layoffs if they are not taken voluntarily, according to an individual with knowledge of the network’s plans.

The buyouts will come across the Turner division, with a couple of hundred expected at CNN and HLN, the individual said.

A CNN spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

IMO this is about the best sort of “Fuck You!” that can happen to these scumbag mouthpieces for the DNC.

Martin’s note also stated that the company will ”start 2015 a more streamlined, nimble and efficient company focused on driving programming, monetization and innovation, in a culture that emphasizes and rewards continuous improvement.”

That gave me a good laugh. The news will still be the same propaganda for the left that it has always been, though, so don’t worry!

Ferguson is All About … Gun Control?

There are many issues that the ongoing situation in Ferguson has raised. Racism. Race-baiting. Media surpression. Militarization of police. But what it is really about, when you get down to it is … wait, what?

The current issue of The Economist contains a striking factoid: “Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero.”1 By contrast, there are about 400 fatal shootings each year by local police in the United States.

When I tweeted out this stunning stat earlier this week, no shortage of people noted an obvious explanation for why British police were so much less likely to fire their guns: there were far fewer guns around them. The U.K. has some of the world’s strictest limitations on gun ownership—handguns are all but prohibited, while shotguns and rifles require a police certificate and special justification (self-defense does not qualify.) There are an estimated 14,000 handguns in civilian hands in the U.K. (population 63 million) and slightly more than 2 million shotguns and rifles. Estimates for the number of total firearms in civilian hands in the U.S. float north of 300 million. Simply put, if the police in the U.S. seem a lot more on edge than those across the pond, they have good reason to be.

As obvious as this explanation for the militarization and trigger-happiness of U.S. police may be, it has gotten relatively little attention amid the alarming spectacle that has played out in Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old and, more recently, the fatal shooting just a few miles away of a mentally-ill man holding a knife.

Every comment thread on Ferguson and police militarization has devolved into liberals screaming that this is really about gun control. If only we got those nasty guns out of the hands of the law-abiding, they say, our police wouldn’t need to be so militarized. They’d be just like the British cops.

Never mind that Michael Brown was unarmed or that Kajieme Powell was armed with a steak knife. Never mind that the protesters were unarmed when police were pointing assault weapons and sniper rifles at them. Never mind that the tear gas and rubber bullet response was justified because of people throwing rocks and bottles (and supposedly, Molotov cocktails). Never mind that our inner cities actually have low rates of legal gun ownership (in DC, the rate of legal gun ownerships is a tenth of the rest of the country). Never mind that fewer officers were shot to death on the job last year than in any year since 1887 (PDF) and that violent assault on cops are down by an equal amount. Never mind that the vast majority of weapons in this country are handguns and rifles, not military-grade weapons. No, it’s really about guns!

In his book on police militarization, Radley Balko talks about the North Hollywood shootout, which was used to justify some police militarization. But the North Hollywood shootout was a rare event, not a harbinger of more violent attacks to come. And the militarization of police throws its roots down in the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. Rarely has gun ownership been used to justify it. And we have certainly never been told this was happening because of the 300 million guns that are owned by law-abiding citizens and are never used to commit crimes.

If we banned guns today, would the police give up their sniper rifles, flash bang grenades, armored vehicles and assault weapons? Of course not. They would claim that we still face danger from terrorism and drug gangs. They would still claim that any raid faced a danger of illegal military-style weapons. They would still default to an armed stance. Compare how officers responded to Kajieme Powell, emerging close by with guns drawn, to how British police dealt with a maniac wielding a machete. These are different approaches to policing, not a response to the phantom menace of super-predators with machine guns.

But gun control is the Left’s religion. Everything, including the finish of teams in the NFC East last year, proves we need more of it. This attitude comes from desperation: gun control is simply a non-starter for most of the country.

How to Suck at Global Warming Policy

Er:

Anyone wanting to buy a powerful vacuum cleaner has only 10 days left to be certain of getting one – following new EU rules that come in next month.

From 1 September, companies in the EU will be banned from making or importing vacuum cleaners above 1600 watts.

The new European rules are part of the EU’s energy efficiency directive, designed to help tackle climate change.

The EU is claiming that this will help with global warming. I would conservatively estimate that the impact of this rule on carbon emissions will be somewhere between jack shit and fuck all.

  • As Bjorn Lomborg points out, Europe already has carbon caps and high energy taxes. So all this will do is change what fossil fuels are used to power, not how much they are powering.
  • Furthermore, those carbon caps and taxes were designed to do exactly this sort of thing. By making energy more expensive, you incentivize efficiency. Over the last forty years, we have seen huge advances in energy efficiency in our homes, our cars and our offices … without mandated technology or even carbon taxes. The reason is that energy prices have risen as the low-hanging fruit of fossil fuels have run out and global demand has increased. And people have responded by buying more efficient technology. Everything in your house — from your car to your coffee maker — is massively more efficient than it was a couple of decades ago. You don’t need to tell people what technology to buy. The market does that for free. What’s the point in singling out one technology among hundreds?
  • If vacuums are less powerful, people will simply run them longer. Net energy gain: zero.
  • The amount of electricity used for vacuuming is minuscule on the grand scale of things. Even if this decreased Europe’s carbon footprint — which it won’t — the amount of time it would buy us on global warming could be measured in seconds. In exchange for that, Europeans will have dirtier carpets and have to shell out tons of money.
  • This is everything that is wrong with the Left Wing approach to global warming. It’s a symbolic move based on someone’s random brain fart that will do almost nothing to address the problem while costing lots of money. Putting aside the science of global warming, this is a phenomenally stupid way of dealing with it. And another illustration of how, for all their pretensions of scientific literacy, the Left Wing is happy to wallow in ignorance and ludditism.

    One person who gets it? James Dyson:

    Dyson vacuum cleaners score highly in the ratings. However, the manufacturer has many concerns about flaws in the system that will ultimately be unhelpful for consumers. It is seeking a judicial review of the legislation at the European court of justice, with judgment due in December 2015. Sir James Dyson, whose company pioneered “bagless” vacuums, said he believed the label itself was a good idea, pointing out that he had never made a machine over 1,600 watts. But he said there were many engineering aspects other than the size of the machine to take into account, and he feared strong performing vacuum cleaners would be rated badly and lead the consumer to buy a machine that simply did not work efficiently.

    I have to tip my hat to Dyson. This ruling will benefit him — his vacuums tend to be very efficient. And I think he (and I) would agree that efficient vacuums are a good thing. But he doesn’t want it mandated because he fears (correctly) that people will simply use a bunch of shitty vacuums that don’t do the job and possibly end up using up even more energy.

    The EU has long made itself a laughingstock when it comes to regulation. But this takes the cake. Europe is now addressing global warming through massive taxes, huge subsidies for underperforming green energy, bans on nuclear power and now a ban on high-power vacuums. And they have reduced their carbon footprint by less than the United States has through simple market forces.