Friday, June 22, 2007

Supporting the Troops

You know, time and again those on the left like to tell us how much they support the troops. Nancy Pelosi supports them so much that she wants to give Canadian troops health care (click for full size):

Of course, she meant this to be for US troops, but apparently she and her staff are so utterly clueless about the military that they just threw up the first picture of an officer with a doctor they could find. You can clearly see "CANADA" embroidered on the epaulet. If they can't even tell a foreign officer from an American one, how much can they really support the troops?

I took this screen shot at 10:35 CST. Let's see how long it stays up.

Update: As of 12:18 CST it is still up. These guys aren't too bright.

Update 2: Just checked again (1:30 CST) and it is finally down. Any guesses if she will issue an apology, or just pretend that it didn't happen?

(H/T McQ and QandO)

The Bitter Taste of US Sugar

Since the time of the founding of our great country, the government has taken every opportunity to insinuate itself into every conceivable manner of non-government business. Take for example the sugar industry. Chris Edwards over at Cato discusses the problems created by government meddling in the sugar industry in the latest Tax & Budget Bulletin (PDF).

Components of the Sugar Program

The purpose of U.S. sugar policies is to keep domestic prices artificially high. In recent decades, U.S. sugar prices have been typically two or more times higher than prices on world markets.2 The federal government achieves that result by setting guaranteed prices and backing them up with trade restrictions and production quotas.

Guaranteed Prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs a complex loan program to support sugar prices. The USDA makes loans to sugar processors, who use their sugar as collateral. In return, processors agree to pay sugar growers certain minimum prices. If the market price of sugar rises, processors can sell their product on the market and pay back the loan. If the market price falls, processors can forfeit their sugar to the government and not repay their loans. The effect is to guarantee prices for both processors and growers. Sometimes other techniques are used to prop up prices, such as paying producers to discard their current inventories.

Trade Restrictions. Import barriers help to maintain high domestic sugar prices. The government applies a two-tiered system of “tariff rate quotas” to limit imports. A lower “in-quota” tariff rate is for imports within a set quota volume. A higher “over-quota” rate applies to imports in excess of the quota. The in-quota amounts are allocated to 40 foreign countries on the basis of prior import patterns.

These restrictions prevent lower-cost foreign sugar from putting downward pressure on U.S. prices. Sugar imports are currently restricted to about 15 percent of the U.S. market. By contrast, imports typically accounted for about half of the U.S. market prior to the 1980s.3

Production Quotas. In addition to controlling sugar imports, the government imposes quotas, or “marketing allotments,” on U.S. production. Each year, the USDA decides what total U.S. sugar production ought to be and then allots it 54.35 percent to beet sugar and 45.65 percent to cane sugar. Most sugar beet production is in Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota, Michigan, and California. Most sugarcane production is in Florida and Louisiana. The USDA allots each U.S. state and each sugar company a specific quota based on a complicated formula. In sum, the sugar industry is a cartel that is centrally planned from Washington.

This is exactly why we, in the country in which it was invented, have to have inferior Coke produced with corn syrup (which the government is also heavily involved in) rather than the good stuff made with real sugar. I rarely drink Coke when I am here in the States, but make a point of drinking it when I am in China.

Girl Friday - 062207

Sometimes it's just nice to slip on your favorite pair of jeans and hang out with friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dumbest Idea of the Week

Over in the comments on Hit & Run, I came across a commenter who was proposing a constitutional amendment to ban Islam. Here is a taste:

Be it resolved that the following Amendment to the Constitution be adopted:

Article I

The social/political/ideological system known around the world as Islam is not recognized in the United States as a religion.

The practice of Islam is therefore not protected under the 1st Amendment as to freedom of religion and speech.

Article II

As representatives of Islam around the world have declared war, and committed acts of war, against the United States and its democratic allies around the world, Islam is hereby declared an enemy of the United States and its practice within the United States is now prohibited.

Article III

Immediately upon passage of this Amendment all Mosques, schools and Muslim places of worship and religious training are to be closed, converted to other uses, or destroyed. Proceeds from sales of such properties may be distributed to congregations of said places but full disclosure of all proceeds shall be made to an appropriate agency as determined by Congress. No compensation is to be offered by Federal or State agencies for losses on such properties however Federal funding is to be available for the demolishing of said structures if other disposition cannot be made.

The preaching of Islam in Mosques, Schools, and other venues is prohibited. The subject of Islam may be taught in a post high school academic environment provided that instruction include discussion of Islam’s history of violence, conquest, and its ongoing war on democratic and other non-Islamic values.

The preaching or advocating of Islamic ideals of world domination, destruction of America and democratic institutions, jihad against Judaism, Christianity and other religions, and advocating the implementation of Sharia law shall in all cases be punishable by fines, imprisonment, deportation, and death as prescribed by Congress. Violent expressions of these and other Muslim goals, or the material support of those both in the United States and around the world who seek to advance these Islamic goals shall be punishable by death.

Muslims will be denied the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

While there is no denying that a major part of the US's and the world's problems are a result of the followers of Islam, I find the idea of writing discrimination into the Constitution to be repugnant. It is in direct conflict with everything that this country was founded on and a perfect example of a "cure" being worse than the disease.

Obviously Not Muslim

OK, so I guess Obama got tired of the lingering questions about his Muslim background. Today he released his "FY08 Federal Funding Requests" and let me tell you, we are talking major league swine her ladies and gentlemen.

My first assumption when I read that he was releasing this information was that he probably only had a few million dollars worth of lard and would use this opportunity to make the candidates look bad, but once I got to his site, I knew I would have dust off the 'ol Canis Libertas super computer to come up with a total. After about an hour of 90% CPU time, I got the result. Whole hog to the tune of $399,766,475* taxpayer dollars. Ouch!

If this is average, and I can only assume that he must think he is on the light side, then we are talking some $40 billion in pork just out of the Senate.

Just for fun, here are some of his gems:

American Theater Company, for the construction of a new facility in Logan Square, $200,000

In the heart of Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, American Theater Company (ATC) will build an 11,000 square foot theater complex using green construction standards that will provide a state-of-the-art experience for its artists and patrons. The theater will serve as a commercial and cultural hub for this diverse and growing neighborhood, welcoming audiences from within and outside of the community. It will be a home for the development of new American works and re-imagined classic American plays, and a center for the development of new talent.

Aurora University, to the Center for Latino Leadership and Education, $400,000

Funding would establish a family-focused after school bilingual program for Latino families that would promote academic preparation and college readiness within an underserved population.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion, for the Parent Support Program and Women in Transition Program, $295,000

These programs provide services crucial to increasing parental efficacy and educate parents about creating a family environment that is supportive and conducive to emotional and academic growth. The curriculum teaches parents to help youth avoid gang involvement, stay in school, and improve their school performance all in a culturally sensitive atmosphere.

PACE Suburban Bus, to replace the radio system in all of its 672 fixed route buses, $2,500,000

The radio system is currently 11 years old, and because it is the primary method of communication between drivers and dispatchers, it is imperative that it be upgraded. The new radios will solve communication gaps that current buses experience. PACE provides 130,000 trips daily, and passengers throughout the region will experience fewer missed connections with other bus routes.

Rockford College, to enhance classrooms, $490,000

This funding would equip classrooms and enhance student learning by outfitting classrooms and labs that will enable faculty to employ the most modern technology when instructing students and will measurably improve student performance.

Those were just a few I grabbed. There were more than 100 listed. Oh and just in case you were wondering, yes, both of the colleges listed above are private institutions and there are several others listed.

* The Canis Libertas intern is somewhat lazy and not very thorough (I suspect he was dropped on his head more than once as a child), so it is possible he entered the data incorrectly. Feel free to run the numbers yourself.


Yet another scientist has had the audacity to speak out about the "settled" science that forms the basis of the "consensus" about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Professor Timothy R Patten, director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, joins the ranks of those claiming that global cooling is the real issue and questioning the politicization of the science.

Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone from David Suzuki to Al Gore to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that "the science is settled." At the recent G8 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel even attempted to convince world leaders to play God by restricting carbon-dioxide emissions to a level that would magically limit the rise in world temperatures to 2C.

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change." Liberal MP Ralph Goodale's June 11 House of Commons assertion that Parliament should have "a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide, which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world," would be humorous were he, and even the current government, not deadly serious about devoting vast resources to this hopeless crusade.

This guy is obviously a tool of "Big Oil" and should be publicly flogged for challenging the Gorian Orthodoxy.

Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.
Blasphemy! The changes we are seeing now are UNPRECEDENTED in the history of the earth and it is all man's fault!

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.
Just stop it! I have absolute faith that man drives the climate.

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments.
LA LA LA LA LA LA LA... I'm not listening!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Government Cheese

I guess it is only appropriate that Wisconsin, known for its cheese, would be just as fervent about government cheese as it is about Cheddar and Colby. In fact, they have a non-profit, Wisconsin Procurement Institute, that is dedicated solely to the purpose of helping to get Wisconsin companies on the federal dole.

The Wisconsin Procurement Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 1987 to "bridge the gap" for Wisconsin companies interested in supplying their products and or services to federal, state, local agencies and prime contractors.

WPI guides, trains and provides hands-on assistance to firms in developing government business and improving process and technical capabilities to access and compete in the Government marketplace.

That in itself, is bad enough, but to find out that, David Obey (D-WI) the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who earlier tried to take the earmark process underground, has created an earmark for WPI, is just surreal. That's right folks, Obey wants to give them your tax dollars so they can help others get your tax dollars.

WPI is just the start though apparently. Governor Jim Doyle (D-WI), it seems, actually gives out awards for the companies that are the most successful at milking the US taxpayer. This year's lucky winners:

Governor's Award - Federal Procurement - Small Business: McNally Industries, Grantsburg, Burnett County. This company makes complex systems and components for a variety of air, land, and sea combat applications. Its products include ammunition handling systems and hydraulic systems, pumps, and valve bodies. Customers include the US Government and defense contractors.

Governor's Award - Federal Procurement - Large Business: Astronautics Corporation of America, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County. This company was established in 1959. It is major supplier of avionics equipment to airlines, aircraft manufacturers, the U.S. Government and governments around the world.
I am sure there is some equivalent here in the Lone Star State, but this is just sickening.

AGW Causes Genocide

Apparently, Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has evolved from simply being a crime against Gaia into a crime against humanity:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday.

"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

"This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming," the South Korean diplomat wrote.

"It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," Ban said in the Washington daily.

Oh, the weather made them do it. I guess that explains it then. It's all America's fault since we are singlehandedly trying to destroy Mother Earth with our consumerism. Shame on us.

(H/T Craig at Liberty Just in Case)

Jessica Alba - American

Generally speaking, I pay very little attention to the drivel that comes out of Hollywood. Since it is usually some idiotic praise of Castro or some other completely useless leftist drivel, it just isn't worth paying attention to. However, the latest kerfluffle has caught my attention.

Apparently, super hottie Jessica Alba (see pic below) was interviewed by the Spanish language magazine Para Todos and had the gall to say the following*:

Alba is my last name and I'm proud of that. But that's it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I'm American. Throughout my whole life, I've never felt connected to one particular race or heritage, nor did I feel accepted by any. If you break it down, I'm less Latina than Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban. But people don't call her Latina because she's blonde…

My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn't speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.

My whole life, when I was growing up, not one race has ever accepted me, ... So I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don't speak Spanish. So, to say that I'm a Latin actress, OK, but it's not fitting; it would be insincere.

It was that last paragraph that really got her in trouble. Apparently she has committed the unforgiveable sin of considering herself American, rather than playing the usual identity politics roll. You know, you can't have that and so she is being savaged around the internet by a bunch of ignorant bafoons:

If what I’ve read is true ( I need a copy of that magazine to confirm this) then Miss Alba is nothing but a CUNT!!! ... We have great latina actresses we can do without that stupid ignorant witch!




Now, I have no idea what Jessica's politics are, but to get these kinds of reactions are just mind blowing to me. It is not as if she actually denounced Mexicans or Latinos, she simply stated the fact that she was not raised in the culture and self-identifies as an American. The only way she could have stirred up more vile is if she threw in a line about Mohamed being gay or something.

Regardless, she is really hot:

* I am unsure where these English quotes came from. The online version is in Spanish and I read through it and did not find these statements, so I guess they must come from the print version. I got them from Mary Katherine Ham at

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Confessions of a Budding Sado-Masochist

Over the past couple of years, I seem to have developed into somewhat of a non-sexual sado-masochist, at least to some small degree. Fortunately, it only manifests when I am in convenience stores. I tell myself that it was not a conscious decision; that it was purely a self-defense mechanism to prevent me from either shooting myself or strangling an attendant. However, I suspect, deep down, that it has been there all along. In fact, I am sure that it would not be hard to find people that have known me for any modest length of time to make such declarations about me.

It all started as I began to discern a trend in the quality of cashiers at various convenience stores. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find one that could produce correct change regardless of what the register told them. Heaven forbid that I would produce any change from my pocket once they had entered the total on the register. More often than not, they were stumped. At first, my reaction to this was irritation, then the more often it happened, anger.

At some point along the way, I began to notice that I was intentionally waiting until my purchase was rung up to produce some amount of change from my pocket. I was actually deriving pleasure from seeing the looks of horror on their faces as they were faced with the daunting task of recalculating my change. I usually leave them squirming for at least 30 seconds before I let them off the hook. I know this is rather petty, but it was either that or face an eventual snap that would lead to a verbal pummeling for some poor bastard just trying to do their job.

The reason I bring all this up is because I think I may have actually had a condescending smirk on my face earlier as I walked up to the local 7-11 for my monthly Big Gulp fix. I got a few other things and my total was $4.09. I gave her a Hamilton and waited until she had rung me up to then hand her a dime. I figured that should be a fairly simple one, but she was absolutely flummoxed. I could tell the woman behind me was in a hurry, so as she stood there with $3.00 in her hand desperately trying to come up with my change, I just told her the answer and left.

Of course, I should have known better. After all, this same girl had previously had problems giving me change, I even watched as a customer gave her $20.00 for gas. She accidentally entered $2.00 in the computer and told me the customer would have to come back in. Somehow, she managed to figure out that the she had to reset the machine for $18.00, but when the customer came back in, she then gave him back $2.00. At first, he looked at her like she was retarded, but after she "explained" that the $2.00 was for the gas he had already put in, he just took it and continued filling his car. I am sure he enjoyed the 10% discount she had unwittingly given him.

I can't imagine that she will last long considering that her register must be short after every shift, but then again, it is likely that 7-11 has a "stupidity tolerance" for its employees that will allow for being X dollars short per shift.