Friday, February 27, 2009

Breathtaking hypocrisy

The New York Times sanctimoniously scolds Americans for using soft toilet paper:

Americans like their toilet tissue soft: exotic confections that are silken, thick and hot-air-fluffed.

The national obsession with soft paper has driven the growth of brands like Cottonelle Ultra, Quilted Northern Ultra and Charmin Ultra -- which in 2008 alone increased its sales by 40 percent in some markets, according to Information Resources, Inc., a marketing research firm.

But fluffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada. Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them.

In the United States, which is the largest market worldwide for toilet paper, tissue from 100 percent recycled fibers makes up less than 2 percent of sales for at-home use among conventional and premium brands. Most manufacturers use a combination of trees to make their products. According to RISI, an independent market analysis firm in Bedford, Mass., the pulp from one eucalyptus tree, a commonly used tree, produces as many as 1,000 rolls of toilet tissue. Americans use an average of 23.6 rolls per capita a year.

Other countries are far less picky about toilet tissue. In many European nations, a rough sheet of paper is deemed sufficient. Other countries are also more willing to use toilet tissue made in part or exclusively from recycled paper.

Hmmm, the Times prints more than a million copies a day. I'm trying to recall what substance they are printed on, but I haven't seen a Times article anywhere but online for as long as I can remember, so I'm drawing a blank.

But my butt feels great!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Punishing the responsible

WSJ reader Dorothy Myers:

"I made a mistake. I got a mortgage that didn't overextend me and probably bought the right piece of property so it's not going upside down. As a reward I get to pay for TARP I, TARP II, the stimulus plan, mortgage nationalizations, bank nationalizations, and the AIG nationalization. What all else Obama will think up to punish me?"

She's learning that "change you can believe in" refers to what is left in your pocket after the Obama vision of government gets done with you.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hypocrisy alert

Gotta love Harry Reid's pushing back against Obama's call for cutting earmarks:

“We cannot let spending be done by a bunch of nameless, faceless bureaucrats,”

And yet Reid would have nameless, faceless bureaucrats making all of our health care decisions for us. If we didn't have Reid and Nancy Pelosi, we would have to create them. They are truly the comedic gift that keeps on giving and giving.

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You can fool some of the people some of the time

But at least half are humming the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again":

Given the choice between federal bailouts for the auto companies, the finance industry and financially trouble homeowners or no bailouts for any of them, 54% say no bailouts period.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Central planning fails again

This is priceless:

A collapsing carbon market makes mega-pollution cheap

Europe's system to edge up the cost of emissions and boost green energy has backfired. There isn't much time to rescue it

'Roll up for the great pollution fire sale, the ultimate chance to wreck the climate on the cheap. You sir, over there, from the power company - look at this lovely tonne of freshly made, sulphur-rich carbon dioxide. Last summer it cost an eyewatering €31 to throw up your smokestack, but in our give-away global recession sale, that's been slashed to a crazy €8.20. Dump plans for the wind turbine! Compare our offer with costly solar energy! At this low, low price you can't afford not to burn coal!"

The poor are grateful to not be forced to live without electricity or heat for the benefit of the religion of others.

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Telling stat

Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models.

That's 11%, for those of you scoring at home. And it speaks volumes about the state of the competitiveness of the US auto industry.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


From the Washington Post:

Review Finds Detainees' Treatment Legal

A Pentagon review of conditions at the Guantanamo Bay military prison has concluded that the treatment of detainees meets the requirements of the Geneva Conventions [...]

Walsh's report was a broad endorsement of the Pentagon's management of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and it urged prison authorities to continue efforts across the system to maximize the ability of the detainees to socialize and practice their religion, according to the government official. "Continue to avoid actions that are disrespectful to the detainees," Walsh wrote.

Ann Althouse: Let's see if he can say now, as he has before, I screwed up.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Voting with their wallets

Interesting summary of market movement from Powerline reader Bill Otis:

McCain's bounce had evaporated, and Obama re-took his lead in the polls, in mid- to late-September. At that time (September 19, specifically), the Dow Jones stood at 11,388.

By the end of September, as Obama's lead widened and solidified, the Dow had fallen to 10,325.

It continued its slide through October. The day after the election, it dropped 486 points to 9139.

By inauguration day, when reality could not be finessed any longer, it had fallen to 7949.

In the month since the inauguration, it has continued to drop, and is now at 7530 [Ed.: Now 7466.]. This is the lowest it has been in 12 years, lower by a considerable measure than it was in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 (when the denizens of Wall Street had to fear not just for their portfolios, but for their physical survival).

To sum it up, the market has lost a third of its value in a scant four months -- the four months in which it became clear that Obama would become, and then did become, President.

While it would just be mindlessly partisan to claim that the decline is entirely due to Obama's ascension on the one hand, so would it be mindlessly partisan to deny that a significant portion of the decline is a reaction to Obama's ascension and fear of what he has and might do on the other.

Because, of course, the stock market is not so much as a snapshot of current economic conditions as an anticipation of the future.

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Home foreclosure not a national problem

I was very surprised to learn from Michael Barone that half of the nation's home foreclosures are in four states - Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida. Furthermore, only 9 states total have foreclosure rates above the national average.

What do they have in common?

"All but California have had massive population growth in the 1990s and the 2000s; all have large Hispanic populations; all have been the site of much housing speculation."

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It's only fair

Interesting question from Wall Street Journal reader Edward G. Stafford:

Now that those of us who have been making steady, on-time payments on our mortgages for years will be paying off others' mortgages through our taxes, can we claim a tax-deduction for our neighbors' mortgage interest too?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

That's not who really needs it

Tax Works​hop for Strip​pers & Sex Worke​rs

But what about Democrat politicians? Surely the need is much greater there.

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Making it a lifestyle

Item: The Phoenix Suns have replaced coach Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry with the goal of going back to their breakneck pace of recent years.

Item: Suns wing Jason Richardson was arrested for driving 55 MPH...OVER THE SPEED LIMIT (!)

John Hollinger's take: Richardson might have been too enthusiastic about adopting the team's new up-tempo style.

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Things you did not know

The laughter at the start of "Dark Side of the Moon" is from the father of (the extremely sexy) Naomi Watts, who was a sound engineer for the band.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A free speech victory

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told Wednesday.

Good for him. He's done so many things wrong early on that I feel compelled to report when he gets something right.

Remember that this is a guy with almost no experience thrown into the hardest job in the world. That he has been so overmatched in his first month does not necessarily mean that he will be a poor president, although the fiasco that is the stimulus bill will make it very tough for him to end up being a good one either.

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They are the change lobbyists have been waiting for

On thing that has become clear very early is that lobbyists will have more power and influence under this administration and congress than ever before. Don't believe me? Check out this passage from the afternoon before the "Stimulus" bill was passed:

We're receiving E-mails from Capitol Hill staffers expressing frustration that they can't get a copy of the stimulus bill agreed to last night at a price of $789 billion. What's more, staffers are complaining about who does have a copy: K Street lobbyists. E-mails one key Democratic staffer: "K Street has the bill, or chunks of it, already, and the congressional offices don't. So, the Hill is getting calls from the press (because it's leaking out) asking us to confirm or talk about what we know—but we can't do that because we haven't seen the bill. Anyway, peeps up here are sort of a combo of confused and like, 'Is this really happening?'" Reporters pressing for details, meanwhile, are getting different numbers from different offices, especially when seeking the details of specific programs.

Worse, there seem to be several different versions of what was agreed upon, with some officials circulating older versions of the package that seems to still be developing. Leadership aides said that it will work out later today and promised that lawmakers will get time to review the bill before Friday's vote.

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Those who don't learn from history...

This passage from the diary of Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury secretary, seems particularly relevant today:

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started and an enormous debt to boot!"

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Mindless pontificating is a sport?

Biden to lead delegation to Special Olympics

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will incompetence get one fired?

That's the question I am asking myself after this unbelievably stupid mistake by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein:

Dianne Feinstein [...] recently stated that U.S. Predator hunter/killer drones "are flown out of a Pakistani base." The launch location is supposed to be a secret.

Feinstein's statement was front-page news in Pakistan. The government quickly denied that the Predators are based in Pakistan, but it's not likely that this self-serving denial trumped Feinstein's admission against her country's interest (not to mention Pakistan's).

Feinstein has thus helped undermine faith in America's ability to keep a secret. And that abililty can be central to securing the cooperation of governments in the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asia in combatting extremist factions that enjoy a degree of public support or sympathy.

Many, including some conservatives, say that President Bush should have involved Congress more deeply in the secret intelligence initiatives that followed 9/11. Perhaps. But Sen. Feinstein's loose lips illustrate one very real disadvantage of congressional involvement.

She should be stripped of her committee chairmanship at the very least, and probably her membership. Such irresponsibility cannot be tolerated even in times of peace, much less in the middle of an existential struggle.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

On the other hand...

This might work for her.

What I won't be getting my valentine

The TwoDaLoo

Monday, February 09, 2009

Line of the year

Jack Kelly:

When in the last election Democrats spoke of a "culture of corruption" in Washington, few realized they were making a campaign promise.

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Good riddance

I was never much of a Vladimir Radmanovic fan.

He had one NBA skill, shooting from distance, and that high arching shot was beautiful to watch and would turn a couple of games a year your way. But his complete failure at every other aspect of the game, especially his mental gaffes on defense - I have described him as being drawn to watching and following the ball the way a 3 year old is drawn to a balloon - would turn more the opponents' way.

Add in the obvious lack of interest on working on his game or learning anything, and the infamous incident where he hurt himself snowboarding and then tried to lie his way out of it, and this was not an easy guy to have to root for.

But he was so overpaid that I did not think they would ever find a way to trade him, until he was in the final year of his contract, so I was left hoping he didn't do too much harm.

So I was obviously thrilled to see the Lakers able to move out his contract in a pure salary dump trade on Saturday.

And I was not, in the least, surprised to hear what proved to be the final straw:

He wore Vans for practice.

That was Vladimir Radmanovic’s last act as a Laker before he was traded Saturday to the Charlotte Bobcats in primarily a payroll-paring move for the future. The Lakers acquired small forward Adam Morrison, a bust to this point as the third pick in the 2006 draft, and shooting guard Shannon Brown.

In his final Lakers practice on Friday, Radmanovic didn’t wear basketball shoes. He wore Vans – the low-top, slip-on kind of sneakers favored by skateboarders and, yes, snowboarders.


Or not seriously … because what undermined Radmanovic, 28, in every attempt to make his mark as a Laker was a lack of seriousness about his profession. That’s why the Lakers were thrilled to unload his contract to spend more freely this offseason in trying to re-sign Trevor Ariza.

I'm sure Larry Brown will love him!

UPDATE 2/14/09: I can't let this bizarre comment by Vlad pass:

"Phil's system, great as it is, doesn't give a role player much opportunity. For Kobe Bryant, it's great. For Pau Gasol, it's great. But role players don't do much."

Seriously? Jackson is the coach with whom helping put role players into situations in which they can thrive is most identified. From B.J. Armstrong and Luc Longley to Robert Horry and Rick Fox to Derek Fisher and Luke Walton, tons of role players have had their best seasons under Jackson. And in many cases gone on to nice contracts elsewhere as a result.

Truly an unjustifiable charge by Radmanovic.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

A "stimulus" history lesson

Kudos to the New York Times (talk about unlikely phrases!) for publishing a story on how the other massive economic stimulus package passed by a government to combat a recession fared:

Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world — totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy — while failing to generate a convincing recovery.

Now, as the Obama administration embarks on a similar path, proposing to spend more than $820 billion to stimulate the sagging American economy, many economists are taking a fresh look at Japan’s troubled experience. [...]

In the end, say economists, it was not public works but an expensive cleanup of the debt-ridden banking system, combined with growing exports to China and the United States, that brought a close to Japan’s Lost Decade. This has led many to conclude that spending did little more than sink Japan deeply into debt, leaving an enormous tax burden for future generations. [...]

Among ordinary Japanese, the spending is widely disparaged for having turned the nation into a public-works-based welfare state and making regional economies dependent on Tokyo for jobs. Much of the blame has fallen on the Liberal Democratic Party, which has long used government spending to grease rural vote-buying machines that help keep the party in power.

Sure, the Times spins the story with a predictable call for more social engineering, but to see them also include the Japanese side of the story in addition to the typical domestic voices echoing the Democrat Party line, is a remarkable departure from the usual partisan propaganda emanating from the beleaguered paper.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Okay, wish I'd said this too

The Washington Post reports on the latest misadventures of the crackhead former mayor Marion Barry:

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has again failed to file his tax returns.

The former District mayor has not submitted federal or city tax forms for 2007 -- the second instance in which he has not filed required returns while on probation for tax offenses, said two sources familiar with the situation.

Two years ago, federal prosecutors failed to convince a federal judge that Barry should be jailed for violating the terms of his probation, which was ordered in 2006, because he did not file 2005 tax returns.

Prompting James Taranto's priceless reaction:

Like everyone else, we immediately thought that Barry must be angling for a position in the administration.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wish I'd said that

Andrew Stuttaford on the Michael Phelps bong hit picture kerfuffle:

I merely note that this broken wreck of a man's failure to win any more than a pathetic fourteen Olympic gold medals (so far) is a terrifying warning of the horrific damage that cannabis can do to someone's health—and a powerful reminder of just how sensible the drug laws really are.

Prohibition didn't work out very well the first time, much like the New Deal. So why do we still have a modern version of the former, and why are otherwise intelligent people calling for a modern version of the latter?

This who do not learn from history...

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Famous quotes

“Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter. ” Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tax receipts up

Some characteristic genius from Scrappleface:

“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”

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One of the major points of contention between right and left has been the wisdom of offering to talk without preconditions to Iran, as Obama promised during his campaign. Which is why this headline caught my eye:

Iran says Obama's offer to talk shows US failure

The open explains:

US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.

May I direct your attention to the large object above the end zone...that would be the SCOREBOARD!

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They now love the president, but they're still anti-American

Check out this hilarious example of gratuitous (and dishonest) anti-Americanism from the AP.

The headline: Iraq wraps up election with major violence

They were really hoping that's all you would read, as the lead paragraph exposes the lie:

Iraq's provincial elections have wrapped up without any reports of serious violence.
Polls closed at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST) on Saturday--an hour later than planned. Millions of voters cast ballots for influential regional councils around most of Iraq.

Shame on those of you who were naïve enough to think that electing a president the press loves woudl cause them to suddenly start liking America. Nor will it change the fundamental US-hate in Europe.

You can lead a journalist to the water on which Obama is walking, but you can't make him drink.

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