Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Friday, December 28, 2012

No country for old men

I'll be honest: I've never seriously considered retiring in Nebraska. Who wants, in his sixties, to deal with weather like Lincoln has experienced in the last two weeks? But doing the usual end of year financial review, I decided to find out exactly how bad Nebraska is for retirees, from a tax standpoint. And the answer is, it's awful. It makes a couple of 'worst ten states for retirees' lists. It has a income tax which is towards the middle in rates but which kicks in at a very low income level. It taxes social security benefits at the highest rate of all the states. It taxes pensions. It has a state estate tax (many states don't). State sales taxes look moderate, but when you consider the local sales taxes that Lincoln and Omaha charges, and then the many and varied occupation taxes, and the substantial property tax...well, why put up with that? In Florida, you pay no income tax, no tax on social security benefit, get a better homestead exemption than Nebraska gives, pay no tax on retirement income, and pay no estate tax. No contest.

A more interesting question, perhaps, is whether it is good public policy to drive out retirees, particularly wealthier retirees. Granted, the elderly don't produce much and consume a lot in services. On the other hand, they are (usually) living off investment income and transfer payments, which are spent in their home state. Their heavy consumption of health care is mostly paid for by Medicare and employs doctors and a host of other health care providers. They don't send kids to the public schools. I haven't done a detailed analysis, but my guess is that they're a net plus for the economy.

Little in Nebraska's tax policy makes much sense, but this seems particularly short sighted.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"One of my best friends is Jewish"

The Lincoln Journal Star dispels the strange idea some people have acquired that Chuck Hagel is anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic, by citing one Omaha rabbi who likes him.

"I reject your reality and replace it with my own anecdote"

In any case, if the dispute is to be settled by counting Nebraska Jews for and against, the Algemeiner seems to have pwned the LJS.

Obnoxious, loud-mouthed, and not especially bright

What surprises me about Chuck Hagel is not that he's running into fierce opposition as potential nominee for the Secretary of defense position, it's that he's in the running at all.

Hagel has made a career of alienating what potential friends and allies he might have had. Through UNL, I've had the opportunity to try to get help from Hagel on various matters of what might be considered constituent service; things like interceding with the State Department to overcome obdurate bureaucratic obstacles on student visas, etc.. He consistently refused to help. UNL's administration ended up completely ignoring him when lobbying for earmark requests, because they knew he would do nothing. If all of this were out of principle, I'd admire it. But there is no evidence Hagel philosophically believes that it is wrong for the legislative branch to intervene with the executive branch to accelerate certain operations, or that earmarks are wrong. He's been happy to vote for all sorts of other federal pork. He just didn't seem to feel it was worth his while to help UNL.

It's not just his failure to positively help his actual or potential constituency. Hagel has gone out of is way to insult Republicans and particularly conservative Republicans; calling us 'disgusting' for trying to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force a reduction in government spending, a goal he theoretically believes in; endorsing Democrats for national and statewide office, etc.. He's alienated pro-Israel Americans by a long series of votes and actions on Iran and Israel. He could have voted against Hormel without opening his big mouth and calling him 'openly, aggressively gay'.

I may not have accumulated all the wisdom I could have in my nearly 55 years (there's an understatement), but I have learned (though perhaps not sufficiently internalized) that you make too many enemies and lose too many friends simply doing the things you have to do, particularly if your politics departs from the bland middle. Going out of your way to make more enemies and (in Hagel's case) lose a whole lot of friends is simply stupid.

And honestly, after thinking about this for a couple of weeks, I think Hagel's besetting vice is stupidity. He voted for the Iraq war, and then turned against it as soon as it started going bad. He supported pulling out as soon as the insurgency developed, with no consideration that America -- in part through his own vote -- had made a commitment, and we would break our word and irrevocably damage our national prestige by doing what he advocated. He opposed the surge, and even now refuses to admit it was the decisive factor in the defeat of the insurgency and in gaining some semblance of a positive result. Refusing to admit you're wrong is in my experience one of the true markers of stupidity.

And getting beyond all the antipathy created by Hagel's own actions, that is what I think disqualifies Hagel: he's just not smart enough for the job. Sometime, a penchant for opening your mouth and disputing the conventional wisdom in crude language isn't a sign of forthrightness and out-of-the-box thinking; it's a sign you think dumb things and you are too obtuse to realize it is better to remain silent and be though a fool, rather than speak and remove all doubt.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Union NO!

For six unhappy years, your devoted correspondent RWP was a member of a labor union, specifically, the American Association of University Professors. It was not entirely his fault. He was recruited by SUNY Stony Brook in 1986, for the princely sum of $29,000/nine months. What Stony Brook did not tell him until he was on campus and signing up for benefits was that he would be required to give 1% of his pre-tax income to said AAUP. He was told there was no choice in the matter (there was a certain amount of choice, but this was pre-internet, and he really needed the job). This was $290 he really needed,having a young family and trying to live on the north shore of Long Island.

By the time he had left Stony Brook 6 years later, he was earning $44,500 a year, after tenure and promotion. Not much of an increase, you might say. No indeed, and a large part of the reason was that the union was actively working to keep his salary down. Stony Brook had two pools of money, a cost-of-living pool, and a merit pool. The merit pool was small, and the union, which hated merit pay, was constantly trying to negotiate it down. But almost all of RWP's raises came through the merit pool. Profs on $100 K a year would generally not bother to send in the documentation to get a $1k or $2k merit raise, whereas RWP, who was publishing well, getting grants, etc., did so diligently. $1k is a lot when you're making $30k a year. The cost-of-living raises were not great either, because New York in the late 80s/early 90s was not in good budgetary shape. Had RWP relied on COL, he would undoubtedly have gone bankrupt (he nearly did, anyway).

The people who ran the union were everything you might expect. When RWP got there, the boss was one Nuala McGann Drescher, who used her copious dues income to sent out comical Wobbly-style newsletters 'Solidarity, Comrades, we have the Bosses on their knees...'. Except, when you thought about it, the 'Boss' was a Democrat governor running a very liberal state. She was succeeded by his own Department's librarian, a complete incompetent. When she tried to dock RWP's meager salary for a book he had returned six months previously, he walked to the place where it was correctly shelved, brought it to her office, and slammed it on her desk. She then wrote to his chair asking to be protected from his 'male rage'.

A large part of his decision to leave Stony Brook was an intense desire to be rid of these leeches. He was careful to check that UNL is not only not unionized but in a right-to-work state.

And this is why he raises a glass to the people of Michigan, who have rid themselves of the foul stain of compulsory union dues, and the fat goons who collect them. Solidarity, Brothers. Rise up and overthrow the (union) Bosses!

And no more writing in the third person for RWP. It's tiring!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

AP's bogus nuclear diagram

AP just came out with a story claiming the diagram below was produced by Iranian computer scientists simulating a nuclear device.
The graph ostensibly plots energy and power vs time, in microseconds. However, power is just the time derivative of energy. So the power graph should just be the slope of the energy graph. Superficially, it looks like it is. But the maximum value of the slope is 4.3 X 108 kT/s, whereas the power graph shows the maximum power to be around 1.7 X 1013 kT/s, 40,000 times larger.

Whoever produced the graph couldn't pass freshman physics. Somehow I doubt that was an Iranian nuclear engineer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Washington Post-racial?

Conservatives have long joked that the definition of a 'racist' is a conservative who wins an argument with a liberal. It's a pretty accurate testimony to the evisceration of all meaning from a word that I took seriously when I was out demonstrating against apartheid. Once people started saying things like 'All whites are racist', the game was up. That's probably a great relief to organizations like the KKK, if they still exist.

Anyway, the WaPo editorial board narrowed it down a little over the weekend. Apparently to demonstrate someone is a racist, one needs to show he is not only white, but comes from one of the states formerly in rebellion. I happen to own a residence in one of the founding states of the Confederacy, so I guess it's time to face reality and look for a white sheet and a pointy hat. It's a shame my high-frequency hearing is shot. I just can't pick up the racist dog-whistles any more.

Meanwhile, James Clyburn, taking a tire-iron to a still functional part of the beleaguered English language, informs us that 'incompetent' is a racist code word for 'black'. It can't be. Barack Obama is not the first incompetent president, not by a long straw.

Biology is racist!

UNLHaters' most recent nugget of h8 is this tweet.
I don't know or care who the tweeter is, and gauging by his other effusions, he's a drunken little maggot. We should probably be thankful his habitual intoxication seems to be limiting his internet output. However, just for the heck of it, let's examine the offensiveness of the statement. First, is it true? Well, yes it is. Michelle Obama does look like an ape. She looks like an ape because she is an ape. Barack Obama is an ape. Mitt and Ann Romney are apes. Gary Johnson is an ape-Libertarian. Everyone who cast a vote in the election was an ape, including moi, though a few may have been dead or fictional apes, particularly in Chicago.

Biologists, after a long struggle, now universally accept that it makes no sense to classify humans as other than apes. Our nearest relatives, chimps and bonobos, split off from our ancestral line about 6 million years ago, and they are apes. Gorillas split off earlier, orang-utans earlier still, and all are apes. A concept called monophyly says that any biological taxon must have a common ancestor, and all descendants of that common ancestor must belong to that taxon. Thus there is no allowable classification that makes chimps, gorillas and orang-utans apes and humans something else.

I doubt either this larval Reichardt or the twit(s) who maintain UNL-haters have a clue about any of this, but in fact our best estimate is that, under the fairly unlikely assumptions that Michelle Obama is 100% of West-African ancestry and Reichardt's ancestors all hail from somewhere in Central Europe, we all shared a common ancestor no more than a couple of hundred thousand years ago, assuming Mr. Reichardt has no Neanderthal genes (and I hope he hasn't, because I rather like Neanderthals). That would say that we are all about 30 times more closely related to each other than to any other ape. Humans, according to biology, are actually not a very diverse species. If only there were some Neanderthals or Denisovians to give us a truly diverse perspective in our college classes!

In any case, most comparisons to other members of the Hominidae are a bit stretched.

You object, as a multiculturally-educated postmodernist, that African Americans have historically been denigrated (oops!) by comparison with apes, in the sense of non-human apes, and so it's racist to continue to make that comparison. Indeed they have. So have Darwinians, the Irish, Slavs, Jews, and probably if you look carefully enough, any group that fell afoul of any other group. We apes can be pretty nasty.

But isn't it pretty obvious Mr. Reichardt's intent was racist? Well, no, not if you don't possess mind-reading abilities. UNL-haters, like almost all of the left, inevitably end up having to make the claim they know what other people are thinking. They don't.

What point am I trying to make here? First, that even things that are 'obviously' racist often don't hold up under any sort of objective analysis. And second, being 'racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic' isn't the only or even the worst way to be obnoxious.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"only a general description"

The Lincoln Journal Star is now telling outright lies in its attempts the whitewash local crime reports.
Three young men tried to rob a 17-year-old walking near 28th and Starr streets at 8:20 Sunday night -- just two blocks from the Holdrege police station. ...Police had only a general description of the three men, who were believed to be in their early 20s.
Let's see what one of the local TV stations reported...
The suspects are described as three light skinned black or Hispanic men, in their 20's, 5'8" and 180 pounds.
Yeah, that's 'only a general description'. What fraction of the Lincoln, NE population would you say is hispanic or light-skinned black, male, 20's, and around 5' 8" and 180 pounds?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Islamist lunacy in the Daily Nebraskan

A Tunisian graduate student in history, writing for the Daily Nebraskan says Israel wants "to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages". One wonders why they would waste their time, given the wonderful job Hamas has already done. This is his explanation for Israeli strikes on Gaza; he manages to completely ignore over a thousand missiles Hamas has lobbed at Israel from Gaza.

Why is the DN employing this lunatic as a columnist? Shouldn't opinion pieces have some minimal standard for balance?

Friday, November 16, 2012

How Obama has changed America

Outstanding piece by John Goodman on Forbes.com. He points out
  1. A large number of employers are switching to part-timers to do low-paying jobs, to avoid the Obamacare mandate. This, of course, was as predictable a consequence as one can possibly imagine.
  2. About half the precipitous decline in labor-force participation since 2007 is a result of easier eligibility rules for unemployment insurance, food stamps and housing aid. When Romney spoke of the 47%, he may have been optimistic.
In other words, at a time full time, low-income workers just became much more expensive to employ, the government reduced the incentive for people to take low-income jobs. We are well on the way to become the U.K., with a class of able but permanently unemployed adults living on the government dole.

Friday, November 9, 2012

UNL thought-police jump the shark

UNL haters launched as a tumblr blog a couple of months ago, largely to accolades from the local media and clueless political science professors. Their goal was to retweet 'hateful' tweets by UNL students, with scolding labels affixed (racist, homophobic, etc.).Indeed, they did a small service in drawing notice to a surprising amount of overt anti-Asian nastiness on campus, although some of these posts, while somewhat racist, are quite funny and even self-deprecating. Then, it appears, it all went to their heads. It became 'homophobic' to object even to the idea of a GLBT-whatever history month, or express religious objection to homosexuality. They decided to go after the most conspicuous conservative professor on campus (moi, of course). I've said what I think about this here. More recently, they've taken to policing the vocabulary of their fellow students. The word 'sissified' is evidently strenglich verboten, as is the modern usage of 'raped' to mean 'despoiled or destroyed'. When I challenged them on this, noting that to rape originally meant 'to seize by force', and pointing out that Alexander Pope's 'The Rape of the Lock' certainly didn't involve ejaculating on someone's hair, they claimed that Pope was being hyperbolically ironic. Well, yes, duh, but not with sexual outrage in mind, and besides, the modern use of rape = despoil is also hyperbolically ironic. (They've since deleted that tweet, though they refuse to honor other people's deletions). Then they claimed to know what the student had in mind when he said 'raped'. In other words, they're thought police.

This exemplifies two of the worst vices of the contemporary left. First, they're control freaks. They want to control the words you use and even what you think. Not an original observation, of course; George Orwell had something to say about it. But also, note the mission creep, born of their essential totalitarianism. Exposing racial animosity was, I suppose, a good thing, though finding out why that animosity exists would be a better thing. But it wasn't enough; they had to use their new toy as a weapon against conservatism (I'm 'transphobic' because I made fun of a man who pretended to be a woman in order to slime a female Senate candidate by comparing her to a porn actress). And now they're constructing an index prohibitorum of words you can't use, and even words whose usage is limited to the contexts they choose.

The way to deal with these little kommissar-wannabes is mockery, and I encourage fellow members of the UNL community, and others, to mock them at every opportunity. Run your language by them to see if it's halal (oops!). Lampoon their most egregious overreaches. Give them good old Nebraska heck!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bob Kerrey laugh of the day

Bob Kerrey, who in the last month of campaign ran almost exclusively negative ads misrepresenting a lawsuit by Deb Fischer, said to AP.
Hatred is a dangerous thing
Indeed. And for three months a strange transvestite Democrat with the handle DebbieDoesNE (conflating Senator Fischer with a pornstar) posted hateful parody tweets on the #NESEN hashtag, without a single objection from Bob Kerrey, or any of his supporters, including those whining how Republicans are at 'war with women'.

Lovely people. Go back to New York, Bob. You're no longer even of comic interest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Binders full of women

Back in the late 1990s, when the University of Nebraska at Lincoln was engaging on its illegal 'opportunity hire' program, wherein they selected faculty based on race and sex and made them offers without an open search, we were indeed sent over a 'binder full of women'. It was a file containing biographical details on women and minorities with a Ph.D., from whom we were supposed to select candidates for special treatment.

Later on, when the Bush DoJ began investigating and UNL suspended this program, we were again encouraged to assemble binders full of women; to do exactly what Mitt Romney did. If we assembled a short list of candidates that was entirely white, or male, or both of those yucky things, we would be told to 'expand the pool'.

You can acknowledge it, or ignore it, but 'binders full of women' have been circulating for the last 20 years, at the behest of feminists. Romney's cardinal sin was not to have done it, but to have acknowledged he did it...because the sine qua non of preferential treatment is never to admit the candidate you hired was preferentially treated. That would be 'condescending'.

So here is my message to women who hate the condescension; change the system. If you were hired for a high-level, scientific or technical position in the last 20 years, chances are you received preferential treatment. If you don't like that, stop lobbying for preferential treatment. But don't ask us to pretend it never happened.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A bare faced lie from Bob Kerrey about cap and trade

Bob Kerrey is desperately trying to backtrack on his previous active support for cap-and-trade and his service on the board of the leftist green fringe group called the National Resources Defense Council.

But unfortunately, there's a record. In 2009 he said, with respect to cap and trade.

When I talk to members of the Senate, that's what I say. If you vote in the negative, you will likewise, the older you get, you will look back on that negative vote and you will be ashamed of that vote.
Now he says
he never lobbied on behalf of the bill. He said he had been asked by the Natural Resources Defense Council to try to persuade about 10 lawmakers in the Senate to support the bill, but he never made those calls
So he lied on Friday, or he lied in 2009. There is no other alternative. Kudos to Robynn Tysver of the OWH for catching this.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bob Kerrey lied to the OWH about Sidney Kimmel

Bob Kerrey was paid the sum of $800,000 in 2011 by the Sidney Kimmel Revocable Trust, supposedly to 'sustain research', by a company called Energetics Technologies, into low energy nuclear reactions, a.k.a the field of quack 'science' popularly known as cold fusion. I've covered the unsavory history of Energetics Technologies elsewhere. What's interesting today is that Kerrey gives more details about what he did for the $800,000.
Kerrey's recommendation was that the whole operation be transferred from Israel to the University of Missouri's business incubator. A couple of the company's researchers have been hired by the university, which used a $5.5 million gift from Kimmel to establish the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance. “I think he would say he got his money's worth,” Kerrey said of Kimmel. A spokeswoman for Kimmel's foundation declined an interview request.
The problem with this story is the timeline is impossible. Energetic Technologies had clearly decided to move to Missouri no later than some time in 2009. The US subsidiary of the company, Energetics Technology USA LLC, was created in Columbia, MO, in 2009, and customs records indicate their equipment was moved there in January 2010. Rob Duncan, the vice-provost for research at U Missouri, is a long-time cold-fusion nut, who travelled with the CBS show 60 Minutes to Israel in early 2009 to visit the Energetics Technologies plant. In other words, he was well aware of the company, long before Bob Kerrey came along.

So Kerrey claims he was paid $800,000 by Sidney Kimmel to advise a company to move, two years after they had already set the move in motion, and a year after they'd shipped all their equipment?


More: this piece from fall 2010 reports Kimmel called Duncan at U. Missouri in 2009 to discuss moving Energetics Technologies, long before Kerrey claims he was employed to advise on the move.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Too much free speech for Ari Kohen

Yesterday, UNL Poli. Sci. professor Ari Kohen wrote a paean to freedom of speech, in defense of the site UNL haters, which collects what they have deemed are offensive tweets by UNL students. And many of these tweets are undoubtedly prejudiced and small minded.

Great. Unfortnately, Professor Kohen decided to mention that one UNL faculty member (moi) was featured, and that I should be embarrassed for myself. he also nicely grouped me with the rest of the tweets, stating ('their' refers to the students and myself)

The government isn’t legislating their ability to post hateful things about Asians on Twitter because, as private citizens, they can say whatever inane things they want to say. That’s free speech right there.
Well it is, and Kohen is also comparatively free to publish libels like the above, since it's very hard to sue for libel. So, since I'm a big free speech maven myself, I confronted Professor Kohen, as you can see from the comments of the article. I pointed out that, while I had been accused of sexism, I had in fact been defending Deb Fischer, a woman running for the Nebraska Senate seat, against a man who had adopeted a pardody version of the female candidate, using a name derivative of a porn movie, and had proceeded to post a series of crude and misgynistic posts supposedly in the name of Senator Fischer. Kohen, as you can see, tried to defend the accusation of sexism, but eventually gave up. He tried to claim he hadn't attacked me, only to snidely continue to link me to various racist student posts about Asians:
I recognize that, like many of the students featured there, you feel that your comment was entirely appropriate.
...and then finally, even though he posted the original smear, asked me why I was reading his posts. Apparently 'free speech' doesn't include the freedom to object when Kohen trashes one's good name. His last pathetic plea, after an exchange of maybe a dozen tweets and and equal number of blog posts, was to whine plaintively
Leave me alone, for God's sake.
It appears free speech is fine when Kohen smearing someone, but not fine when the recipient of his smears refuse to lie down and instead fight back.

Running chicken, indeed.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oh noes, I'm a UNL hater!

UNL haters is a tumblr site whose anonymous (cluck cluck) management report tweets and facebook pages that they deem racist, sexist, homophobic, 'bodyshapist', or any of the myriad other transgreesions against political correctness, from UNL students and now (presumably) faculty. Oh I suppose it could be worse. At least they're using speech to deal with speech, as opposed to the frequently used leftist tactic of trying to impose speech codes. Granted, it's overweeningly sanctimonious (but after all, these are leftists) and you have to shake your head at people who spend a great deal of time in effect snitching on things other people say. But hey, it keeps them from organizing for Obama or other noxious activities.

I figured it was inevitable I would make the list eventually, but I'm amused at the cluelessness of their choice.

So my tweet is (according to them) sexist, except it's directed at a man operating a parody account called DebbieDoesNE. The owner of DebbieDoesNE is pretending to be a female political candidate, who happens to be a Republican, using a misogynistic handle associating said candidate with a porn star. In other words, UNLhaters isn't calling out sexism, it's defending it. But as has been demonstrated amply by Michelle Malkin and others, sexism and racism don't count when a conservative is being attacked.

They've violated the PC line elsewhere too. For example, they originally flagged as homophobic a reference to Jerry Sandusky. Presumably then a grown up told them Sandusky is a heterosexually married pedophile, and implying a Sandusky reference was homophobic was, well, homophobic. They took that down, although they don't take down other people's deleted tweets. A bit hypocritical, too, you might say, but about right for leftists.


Incidentally, this is the original tweet to which mine was in reply. Stupidly forgot tags.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The nuzepaper of rekurd?

MoDo's column this Sunday was predictably hackneyed -- evil neocons, yada yada yada -- but what really stood out was its fifth-grade spelling.
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.
Is Dowd under the impression you spell 'second' differently when you use it as a verb? And (evil neocons again):
After 9/11, the neocons captured one Republican president who was naïve about the world. Now, amid contagious Arab rage sparked on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice president, both jejeune about the world.
The word is jejune. And then at the very top...
PAUL RYAN has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill.
That word does not mean what she seems to think it means...and it's apparent also that Dowd doesn't cook, though it has unkindly been suggested she occasionally gets stewed.

I know it's hard to find good help on a Saturday evening, but if the Times can't afford a competent editor, could they at least use a spell-checker?

Friday, September 14, 2012

How to get ahead in academia

Faculty version.

Professor Smith: I'd really like a raise. Jones over at Enormous State University makes 50% more than me, and I kick his ass scientifically.

Dean: So you say. Prove it!

Smith starts writing job applications. He gets a set of interviews, and then eventually a big offer from Ivy-covered College. He shows the letter containing the big offer to the Dean.

Dean: I notice we're underpaying you here, Smith. We'll rectify this immediately!

Administrator version.

Board of Regents: How about a free house? And maybe a pay raise?

Administrator: Oh, OK!

Bait and switch: the Lincoln Journal Star 'evolves' on Keystone XL

Lincoln Journal Star editorial June 7, 2011, on Keystone XL:
The Journal Star editorial board, in more than a dozen editorials, has voiced opposition only to the proposed route of the pipeline -- not the pipeline itself. We recognize the nation's need for oil and the advantages of getting it from a democratic neighbor. It's the proposed location that is wrong.
Today's editorial:
All along we've said we could live with it, conditionally, if it didn't go through the Sandhills, if reasonable safeguards apply, if authorities in Nebraska and Washington do their duty, if TransCanada bears appropriate responsibility for any damage the pipeline's contents may do in the future.
Uh, no, that's not what they said all along. And...
As time passes, even after TransCanada agreed to alter the route, the differences don't get any easier to reconcile. The tar sands oil called bitumen doesn't get any less difficult to deal with, environmentally or politically, nor does U.S. dependence on the volatile Middle East, nor does our now chillier relationship with Canada. We are in one of those dilemmas that test rationality and judgment, and we may not know whether we did the right thing even in our lifetimes.
On the other hand, this blog has been consistent. The original route was fine. Any dangers to the Sandhills and the aquifer are illusory. And the campaign to move the route was merely a prevarication, a delaying tactic that is merely the first step in a strategy to stop the pipeline altogether.

The Lincoln Journal Star's disingenuous participation in this strategy is now clear.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blaming the messenger

A US consulate in a Muslim country with a large population of Islamist fanatics and still in near-anarchy was attacked on 9/11 in a pre-planned attack. Surprised? Then you're an idiot. And so is the US President who left diplomatic personnel and facilities unguarded by US Marines. On the other hand, since the President has been skipping intelligence briefings fro the last year to campaign and fundraise, how would he even have known there was a danger?

Of course, if you're a member of the press, none of this dereliction of duty matters. Just blame Mitt Romney for pointing out the obvious.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ecofascism in Lincoln

I generally avoid using words like 'fascist', except to refer to actual fascists. But what is one to make of Lincoln's watering restrictions? Having an automatic sprinkler go off on the wrong day, say at 3:30 am, is liable to have one rousted out of bed in the wee hours by the local police, and charged with an actual crime, punishable in practice by a heavy fine and in theory by a year in jail.

Now it appears today this criminal conviction will linger permanently on one's public records and cost one the chance of employment.

Lincoln's ultra PC 'public safety director', a hitherto unneeded position created for Tom Casady by the Democrat political machine in Lincoln, has spent his long, lazy days openly mocking the unfortunate citizens targeted by his goons, who would much rather bust mommies in their homes at 4:30 am than do dangerous things like catch armed robbers. And while they treat the perpetually whiny lesbian and gay activist community with kid gloves, going out of their way to make nice even while members of said community concoct hoax hate crimes, they are gung ho about busting taxpayers unfortunate enough to have malfunctioning sprinkler controls.

And ultimately, the fault for Lincoln's water shortage lies with Democrat city leadership which, while the city has grown, has done nothing to get beyond an unreliable well system that draws water from a river across which one can reliably walk in an average dry summer. When you've had hosepipe restrictions twice in the last ten years, you can't claim it's an extraordinary event.

To an extent, it's Lincolnites' own fault. They voted these crooks in; they got a massive property tax hike, a 'public safety director' who is paid hundreds of thousands a year to write a blog, bloated public employee union pay increases, and criminal punishment for the failed infrastructure those crooks have provided them with.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hate crimes and fantasies

The Lincoln Journal Star has now published its third article whitewashing/sanitizing the hate crime hoax pepetrated by lesbian Charlie Rogers. The article concludes
After police arrested Rogers for allegedly making up the attack, LGBT leaders rallied to support each other. They also said in a news release that, whatever Rogers did or didn’t do, hate crimes happen in Lincoln, and that victims should report them to the same investigators who believe Rogers lied about an attack that captivated the country.
Previously, we had this remarkable puff-piece/canonization of Rogers, trumpeting her recent elevation as 'Mr. Star City Pride', and proclaiming
A few days after getting her crown and four days before she would report the alleged hate crime against her, Rogers promised to be a catalyst that would foment change, create something new that would help everyone.
And earlier, in their comically named 'Faith and Values' section, the LJS used Rogers as poster-child for the proposition that 'we all lie a lot'. Well, maybe, or maybe not, but we don't all concoct elaborate hoaxes a lot. But getting back to today's piece, which emphasizes that hate crimes are really really real, and we have a lot of them.
Lincoln police started tagging hate crimes before the law required it, and there are more reports than you might think. The city made up less than one-tenth of the state’s population in 2010, but according to the FBI’s last report on hate crime statistics, Lincoln recorded two-thirds of the state’s 61 hate crimes that year.
...except, when you actually look at the number of hate crimes that go to court, they all mysteriously vanish. In fact, of those 61 hate crimes in 2010, exactly one resulted in a charge being brought. Some are mysterious...
The first hate crime of the year unfolded at the juvenile detention center, where a 17-year-old made a racial slur against a 12-year-old Sudanese boy. The younger boy punched him in the face.
(So which one committed the hate crime?) Some were racial abuse left on answering machines; deplorable, but not even a crime. And some number were probably fakes., like Rogers'. And what of the single hate crime that was actually charged as such? The hate crime charge was dropped. The victim took off. And the perp. was given 15 month probation.

So, really, really really, we are assured there are a lot of hate crimes in Lincoln. But as far as actual charges go, we have Hoaxes 1, Hate crimes 0. Draw your own conclusions.

Today in socialized health care

The Daily Mail reported a few days ago that doctors in Britain's National Health Service have been told to try to talk women out of epidurals and caesarians to save money.

Since here in the US, women are more likely to support PPACA than men, hats off to our brave sisters, who are apparently willing to put up with the often excruciating, day-long pain of a natural childbirth in order to save the gummint a few hundred bucks! The Proletariat thanks you, comrades!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bob Kerrey's role in the biggest tax increase in history

Bob Kerrey has been trying to make political hay out of Deb Fischer's role in some minor Nebraska tax increases. That is truly outstanding chutzpah,given Kerrey's role as the deciding vote in what was (until ObamaCare) the largest tax hike in US history, Bill Clinton's tax hike of 1993.

Kerrey, as is his usual practice, dithered until the last minute before deciding. Eventually, the evening of the Senate vote, he called Clinton to announce his support. The measure passed without a single Republican vote, and five Democrats defected. Kerrey cast the crucial vote to create a 50:50 tie, which Al Gore, as Vice-President, then broke. The story is here.

The measure increased the top rate of Federal income tax from 31% to 39.6%. It increased the corporate tax rate to 35%, which has had a devastating cumulative effect on American business over the years. It made 85% of social security income subject to federal taxation. It increased the federal gas tax by 30%. And it increased EITC, a form of welfare. In raw dollars it was larger than any previous tax increase, and today is smaller only than ObamaCare (ACA) in extent. Kerrey said his reluctance was because the tax increase was too small!
My heart aches with the conclusion that I will vote 'yes' for a bill which challenges Americans too little.
It's time to hold Bob Kerrey accountable for his record.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Diversity training doesn't work

A nice piece in Psychology Today
A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had "no positive effects in the average workplace." Millions of dollars a year were spent on the training resulting in, well, nothing. Attitudes — and the diversity of the organizations — remained the same. It gets worse. The researchers — Frank Dobbin of Harvard, Alexandra Kalev of Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota — concluded that "In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on management diversity."
Hat tip to the great new College Insurrection blog.

They can't help themselves

The Lincoln Journal Star editorial board has swung so far left, it's comical to watch it try to appear balanced, as it did today, reviewing the Republican convention.
For months, mainstream pundits have portrayed Mitt Romney as out of touch and socially awkward with ordinary Americans.
Mainstream pundits, eh? Who would they be? Rachel Maddow? Leonard Pitts? EJ Dionne? Notice they didn't actually name any of these 'mainstream pundits'?
Probably not the guy you’d want to yuk it up with at the bar on Saturday night, but maybe someone you would want as a trustworthy designated driver.
This isn't biased, it's just stupid. He's a Mormon, geniuses. They don't drink.
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech was riddled with errors in fact and distortions. To cite one example, the auto plant that Ryan said was closed despite President Barack Obama’s promise to keep it open actually closed before Obama became president.
To cite one example, this is complete nonsense. The Janesville GM plant closed in April 2009, as described by the Janesville Gazette, which would be, you would think, in a position to notice.The LJS clearly swallowed this lie whole from some other partisan 'fact-checker', and didn't notice it had been throughly debunked within 12 hours.

On the bright side, I doubt anyone was taken in by this transparent piece of disingenuousness.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It offends you? Good!

President Barry Soetoro Hussein-hussein-hussein Teleprompter Muslim Chow-chow-mein Mau-mau Polygamist-Jr. Illegal-deadbeat-relative God-damn-America Affirmative-action-admit Doper Cokehead Kenyan Terrorist-pal "Let-me-be-clear" Trayvon-my-son Teleprompter McBirthCertificate.

Got all that?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bob Kerrey's shocking economic ignorance

Bob Kerrey tweeted the following astounding misstatement yesterday
Speaking in Omaha: "The last time our spending was at 18% GDP, Thomas Jefferson was President." #nesen pic.twitter.com/xFXSAj2w
You can look up US Federal spending as a percentage of GDP in all sorts of places, including the White House website, but I like this graph.

First things first; obviously Kerrey is ludicrously wrong. Spending was below 18% of GDP as recently as 1966, and it was 18.2% of GDP in 2000 and 2001. Deb Fischer's goal of returning it to 18% of GDP is entirely reasonable, from historical standpoint. But look at what this says about Kerrey's conception of the federal government. The US govt. during peacetime consumed 3% or less of GDP until 1930. Wars obviously vastly increase expenditure, and you can see a ratchet effect in a graph; after every war, spending comes down, but not to the previous baseline. A better argument for Ron Paul's policy of non-intervention I can't think of.

Bob Kerrey has a completely different, and completely wrong, mental picture of the historical role of the federal government. He sees it as consuming almost a fifth of the nation's wealth almost all the way through the 19th century, when it actually consumed 2 - 3%. Peacetime federal spending only really exploded under the New Deal, and it took blackmail of the Supreme Court to allow the federal government to assume that role.

Seriously; if you are that ignorant of the economic history of the United States, how can you credibly be trusted to reform entitlements?


It wasn't just a one-time misstatement either. This is what Kerrey said in Falls City on July 31
“We’re spending 16 percent of the GDP - it hasn’t been that low since Thomas Jefferson was president,” he said. “Deb Fischer says we can balance the budget with nothing but cuts? If you do that, you’re going deep into Social Security. You’re cutting deep into Medicare. You have to have additional revenue. And there are terrific Republicans in the Senate right now who understand that reality. Yes, we have to have cuts, but we need additional revenue too."
I think he meant we're taking in 16% of the GDP in Federal tax, but really, who knows?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hoaxes are not victimless crimes

The obvious; the Charlie Rogers investigation has probably cost tens of thousands of dollars, when you include police and FBI and NFPB time, DNA and other forensic testing, pathologists' examinations, etc.. I do expert witness work, and we ain't cheap.

The slightly less obvious: Lincoln's name and reputation has been dragged through the mud. A lot of people will have heard about the 'crime' and not the rebuttal. There is a vast amount of ignorance on the coasts about the American heartland, and this story will have reinforced prejudices. It will hurt us all, in a way that will be very hard to measure.

There is also the small but not negligible chance some unlucky person might have been arrested, charged, and even convicted for this made-up crime. Such things have happened.

Finally, contrary to what activists, the local police and media would have you believe, false crime reports are not uncommon, and when it comes to hate crimes, they may well be more common than actual crimes. These hoaxes are rarely punished severely, and so there is little deterrent. Heck, Al Sharpton parlayed his active participation in a hate-crime hoax into a national TV gig!

If I know Lancaster Co., and I do, Charlie Rogers will be given a slap on the wrist, which in no way reflects the severity of her actions. She will be channeled into pre-trial diversion, probably involving 'counseling', and do no jail time, or very little. She may well escape without even a conviction. And then the same darn thing will happen again, and our media will learn nothing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lincoln hate crime is a hoax

An arrest warrant has been issued for lesbian activist Charlie Rogers, who apparently staged the entire thing, including buying the box-cutter she used to cut herself at a neighborhood hardware store. Real bright.

Lincoln is owed an apology from the motley and unsavory crowd of LGBTQ activists who were willing to indict an entire community for an accusation that didn't pass the smell test.

Details here.

Told you so here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Slime Ryan FAIL!

Within hours of the Paul Ryan vice-presidential announcement, the Obama campaign had released their first slime-Ryan video. Its content is hackneyed and predictable, until about the 37 second mark, when it starts claiming Ryan's budget would hurt college students. And, of course, they show a shot of students at college:
Nice looking college, no? Well, no. That's the Nebraska State Capitol building, west entrance. Here's a iPhone picture I took yesterday evening.
Of course, you could argue this epitomizes Obama's attitude to college; he spent his Columbia years smoking dope and snorting coke in his apartment. And it's truly ironic they didn't notice the statue in the foreground. Uh, Barack, that's Abraham Lincoln. But mostly this shows that Obama's team is so frantic to generate smears, they don't do the most minimal fact-checking.

h/t anonymous commenter on Leavenworth St.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Decapitated and too far east

Lincoln is getting yet another giant head, this one on newly constructed 'Union Plaza', by Antelope Creek. An older giant head, detached from its body like poor Danny Pearl, lies ear to the ground outside the Sheldon Art Gallery. It cost the Sheldon $10,000 to repair its 'patina' after a compassionate but none-too-bright football fan tried to feed it pizza. It's called Fallen Dreamer

The new giant head, by New York 'sculptor' James Tyler, is called Groundwater Collossus and is 'a personification of the Ogallala aquifer'. It's a rather distant personification, since the Ogallala aquifer does not underlie Lincoln. Some stuff inside the head will play the sound of water trickling into the aquifer, which is good, because you can't hear that anywhere, especially not in Lincoln.

Mr Tyler has made lots of giant heads, but this is the biggest. A lot of suckers like us out there, I guess, but we're the biggest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Beloved icon"...oh please!

Some of Lincoln’s public art pieces have become beloved icons, like “Torn Notebook.”
This is the monstrosity in question. It looks like a lost whale, trying to burrow into the ground. I admit, the first time you see it, it has a certain WTF? quality. But believe me, when you walk past it twice a day, every day, you wish they'd tear the damn eyesore down and plant a few trees.

Monday, July 30, 2012

All together now, Brits. "Sorry, Mr. Romney. You were right!"

Starting with the bizarre Pyongyang-style Singing Dancing Homage to the Collective on Friday night, the London Olympics are clearly a complete cock-up. The London Times today revealed that 70% of the better seats were empty for the USA-France men's basketball game. Seriously, how much of a shambles is it when you can't fill a small arena to watch Lebron and Kobe play on the same team? One third of the beach volleyball seats, right in the center of London, were empty; good grief, not all British men are homosexual! There were 'five or six' people watching the home team GBR play Bulgaria in the fully-clad version of the sport. The soldiers who were stationed in London at the last minute to provide security, after contractor GS4 failed to lure enough welfare cases to give up their benefits for rent-a-cop jobs, are now being ordered to fill the empty stands.

However, one venue is fully subscribed; the lines for McDonalds, which are reportedly two hours long.

How pathetic is it that, in a major metropolis, they can't figure out a way for people who clearly want to watch the games, actually to get in to watch the games?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Unintentional comedy of the day

Justin Tolston, Occupy Lincoln protestor, was suspended by 'Teach for America' because they wanted him to teach seventh grade writing and sixth grade math, and he wanted to 'nurture social development'.

So he whined about it, semi-literately. Too bad he didn't focus more on seventh grade writing. Teaching a subject is one of the best ways of learning it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A grain of salt

There has been massive and somewhat overwrought reaction to an alleged hate-crime in Lincoln. It is worth noting that the police have so far said very little, and that the reported details have some notable resemblances to previous hoaxes.

People need to step back, take a deep breath, and wait until the facts are fully available.


Now (Friday) it appears the FBI and Lincoln Police can find no evidence of forcible entry. Meanwhile, the complainant, who has come forward, says she won't discuss the circumstances lest she jeopardize the investigation. Except that, since she can't describe the alleged perps and the police can't find any evidence of a home invasion, it's hard to see how there could be much of an investigation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Profiting from his role in government: Bob Kerrey and the student discount card scandal

In researching Kerrey's political biography, I've been struck by one respect in which he's a very unusual politician. Some politicians remain only modestly wealthy throughout their lives; Joe Biden would be an example. Some become rich and then go into politics, exchanging some of their wealth for power. Some have spouses who make money, often using the political spouse's connections.

Kerrey seems to be one of the few who went in to politics to make money, rather than accumulating wealth to buy power. As a businessman in the late 1970s, he admitted as much; he was going to seek political office to improve financial returns. We'll look at some of his dealings in office later on.

This showed up very early in Bob's political career, when he was BMOC and the de facto muscle for the Greek societies on the UNL Student Council in 1964-1965. We've already examined Bob's campaign against an initiative that would merely have urged (not compelled) fraternities and sororities to desegregate. At the time, though, the bigger scandal, which galvanized campus for a while, was Kerrey's profiteering from Student Discount Cards.

Student discount cards are not as common as they once were, so let me explain about them. A student organization solicits merchants to offer students a discount on goods or services; in return the merchant gets advertizing and increased traffic. The cards could be sold to students or simply given away; the merchants could also be charged for advertising. It was a primitive, low-tech Groupon, if you like. UNL's Student Council in 1964 approved the sale of these cards, with the evident intention of helping students.

Bob Kerrey however spotted an opportunity. As a member of the Student Council and its Welfare Committee, he took it upon himself to collect a 67% commission on sale of advertising on the cards. He even employed a graduate student to help him. Toigether, they made $380 ($2,800 in 2012 dollars). He also put his own name and address on the cards, rather than the Council's.

Student Council was not happy, and Kerrey was hauled before the judiciary committee. Kerrey defended himself by protesting that the Student Council had not explicitly prohibited profiting from discount card sales. He also claimed other members of the Council had been offered a cut, which they denied. His accusers pointed out he had exploited his office for personal profit (a theme we'll see again and again). After an acrimonious hearing, Kerrey escaped being expelled from Student Council, but the Judiciary Committee found him guilty of "extremely poor judgement" and found that he had "made money by virtue of his position in Student Government".

Frank Partsch, editor of the Daily Nebraskan, who later went on to a distinguished career at the Omaha World Herald, editorialized that Kerrey's actions were "highly irregular for a member of Student Council" and that he should have been removed from office.

The one member of the Judiciary Committee who held out for Kerrey's expulsion, John Klein, claimed the decision made no sense, and that Kerrey was retained on the Council because of pressure from the Greek societies. If true, this will not be the last time Kerrey's frat brothers will come to his aid.

So there it is; a tempest in the teapot that was UNL student government in 1965, but starting a pattern, which, as we will see, has continued to the present day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lincoln owns five golf courses -- why?

Unaddressed in this story that the city of Lincoln subsidized no fewer than five public golf courses to the tune of $800,000 in the last ten years and $600,000 just last year is the question: why is the city operating public golf courses, at a loss, when there are numerous private golf courses in Lincoln. We are heavily supporting the recreational pursuits of a minority of Lincolnites, and, let's face it, these are not the homeless or otherwise needy. The average golfer plays 21 rounds a year. 121,000 rounds were played on city courses. Therefore, we can estimate the subsidy amounted to the total golfing of 6000 Lincoln residents, or about 2% of the city's residents. Furthermore; there are the hidden subsidies; if the courses were sold, the new owners would pay all sorts of taxes on the land and on whatever use they made of it.

It is astonishing how much unalloyed socialism there is in Nebraska. This is just one flagrant example.

Orchard oriole (Icterus spurius)

...feeding on nectar from the trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans. SW Lancaster Co., Nebraska, yesterday evening.
We also have several (highly pugilistic) ruby throated hummingbirds, and a pair of Baltimore orioles as regular feeders.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lyin' Bob

Meanwhile, I came across this little snippet from a speech by Bob Kerrey at the Democrat state convention.
It was the Democratic Party, he said, that supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing racial discrimination and the federal law known as Title IX in 1972, which requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding.
A bald-faced lie, of course. Here are the actual numbers on the final version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Senate
Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

House
Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)
And, of course, a year later, lyin' Bob voted against desegregating student organizations at UNL, trailing 80% of the Congressional GOP on civil rights.

Puppet on a string

Like a marionette jerked by Paul Johnson, Bob Kerrey's campaign manager, the Lincoln Journal Star today editorialized about grazing fees, a topic it has ignored for the entire history of the fish wrap. According to the LJS
Kerrey and Nelson are right to pull the grazing fee issue into the public eye.
..ignoring that Kerrey voted against a grazing fee hike while he was in the Senate, and ben Nelson has completely ignored the issue until it became a cudgel with which to bash GOP Senate candidate Deb Fischer. As I've noted before, the LJS no longer even tries to keep up the appearance of being nonpartisan.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Norbert Tiemann, dead

Norbert Tiemann, the man who gave Nebraska its state income tax, then retired to a state with no income tax, died today. One nice thing about being an atheist is you don't feel obliged to say nice things about people you don't like just because they died.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bob Kerrey's ACU ratings, 1989-2000

The American Conservative Union is one of several organizations that compile a score sheet each year, based on 20 or so Congressional votes, to evaluate, broadly, how conservatively a Congresscritter voted. I've plotted Bob Kerrey's annual ACU rankings for his entire Senate career, 1989 - 2000, and compared them with a 'typical liberal' (Teddy Kennedy, D), a moderate Democrat (Kent Conrad, D), and Kerrey's Nebraska senate colleague, which was Jim Exon (D) from 1989 - 1996 and Chuck Hagel (R) from 1997- 2000.
It is clear that Kerrey's claims to being a moderate, or to 'reaching across the aisle', are hogwash. Year by year, Kerrey voted with the far left of the Democratic party...except for one particularly crass exception, 1994, when he voted like a moderate. 1994, of course, was his re-election year. Kerrey's lifetime ACU ranking was a dismal 8/100. In four of the twelve years he tied or voted more liberally then Teddy Kennedy. In three years (1992, 1995 and 1998) he scored a nice round zero. By comparison, over the same 12 year period, Kent Conrad scored 21, and over Jim Exon's 7 years, he scored 36.

The old knock on Kerrey was that he talked like Ronald Reagan but voted like Teddy Kennedy. As you can see, when he wasn't up for re-election, he voted just like Teddy Kennedy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Are we in the Euro's event horizon?

My first foray into macroeconomics. Don't laugh.

The title refers to an interesting property of supermassive black holes. In theory, because the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole (the event horizon, assuming it isn't rotating) is proportional to the mass, while the gravitational field falls off proportional to the inverse square radius, an astronaut could cross the event horizon without experiencing significant tidal forces. In essence, the astronaut would be cut off from the universe by a singularity, and doomed, without ever realizing he was fatally close to a black hole. It's a wild analogy, of course, but reading the newspapers this morning led me to wondering if the Euro is large enough that its collapse is now unstoppable, before even its collapse has caused any significant damage.

The first item of news is that Germany is now experiencing a property boom, not as a result of its own macroeconomic policies, but because the flow of money from Southern Europe into German banks has substantially inflated German money supply, and is causing a potential bubble in its property market. This is new and unusual. The German property market has historically been kept stagnant by Bundesbank policy; even quite affluent Germans rent their residences rather than buy them.

The second item, was of course the distress of Spanish Bank Bankia which is suffering a bank run (or bank jog, because it's slower). Greek banks have been experiencing the same phenomenon in the last week. Southern Europeans are now sufficiently convinced of the collapse of the Euro that they're moving their money offshore. Interestingly, until now, this wasn't a substantial problem. Something has changed.

Third, the NY Times has a silly story that says the reason Germany is unenthusiastic about a Greek bailout is their own lack of success in economically stimulating the former East zone, which absorbed trillions of marks and later Euros and still lags the West. Greece's problems are similarly structural, not monetary, it says. Of course, it's all true, but it has the odor of a semi-bluff put out by the Bundesbank; true enough to be plausible, but not the real story.

The real story is that Germany has calculated that, were there to be a growth 'stimulus' as the US, France and most of Europe are advocating, the money would not flow to Southern Europe, where it's needed, but into Germany, where it's comparatively safe. Germany could tamp down asset bubbles by increasing interest rates and contracting its own money supply, but that would simply make Germany a more attractive place to park funds. People are already investing at interest rates near zero; imagine if the interest rates were raised! The result would inevitably a German bubble, not a reinvigoration of the periphery.

The problem is long-term, not short term; it's structural, not monetary; and a stimulus would be suicidal. Meanwhile, without a stimulus, Europe will continue in austerity for a long time, and some countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and probably Italy, are doomed.

A smaller currency would already be in a spiral, as speculators seized the reins. George Soros did this to sterling and to the Malaysian ringgit. But the Euro is too big yet for any single speculator or group of speculators to take down. Nonetheless, I'm traveling to Europe in a month, and despite the currently low price of $1.25, I'm holding out for better. If I'm right, it's going to go substantially lower.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What do terrorist Brett Kimberlin and Bob Kerrey have in common?

The answer first: financial support from Barbra Streisand.

Tomorrow is 'Everybody blog about Brett Kimberlin day', in which the blogosphere will act in unison to respond to terrorist bomber and likely murderer turned leftist activist Brett Kimberlin. Kimberlin has been harassing those who have made it their mission to expose him. The plan is, we each contribute our own slant on Kimberlin and his leftist enablers. I will be out of action the whole day, so I figured I'd get my contribution in early.

One of Kimberlin's recent contributors is Barbra Streisand, to the tune of $10K. Babs has also given $1k to Bob Kerrey. Nice company you're keeping there, Bob! As usual Michelle Malkin has one of the best synopses of the whole incredible convoluted story.

Solving problems across party lines? Don't make me laugh!

Bipartisan Welfare Reform passed in 1996 with the support of 53 Senate Republicans and 25 Senate Democrats, including Bob Kerrey's Nebraska Democratic colleague Jim Exon. 21 Senate Democrats voted against, most of them, like Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer, on the far left of the party. The President signed the bill.

Bob Kerrey voted against it. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

The bipartisan Partial Birth Abortion Act of 1995 was vetoed by President Clinton. 46 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted to override the veto, including Bob Kerrey's Nebraska Democratic colleague Jim Exon.

Bob Kerrey voted against it. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

The bipartisan Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2000 was passed by the Senate with support of 49 Republicans and 14 Democrats, including Vice-President Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel.

34 senators voted against. One was Bob Kerrey. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

Coordination?

It is illegal for a superPAC to coordinate its activities with a candidate. There is, however, nothing to prevent a newspaper from coordinating its activities with a candidate. And indeed, that seems to be what the Lincoln Journal Star is doing.

Yesterday, the tottering Kerrey campaign sent out a tweet bemoaning 'big money in politics' (except the big money that flows to Kerrey from billionaire Democrat donors, of course). And they have a phony online 'petition' against superPAC money.

And today, like one of Pavlov's dogs secreting gastric acid at the sound of a bell, the Lincoln Journal Star writes a wooly-headed editorial castigating Joe Ricketts and mysterious, anonymous superPAC donors, even though it concedes Joe Ricketts isn't the least anonymous.

The timing is pure coincidence, of course.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Journal Star hasn't shown the least curiosity in finding out why Kerrey was paid million dollar sums last year for nebulous services to Sidney Kimmel and Ronald O Perelman.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Money and speech

The self-unawareness of liberals is a constant source of amusement. Don Walton this morning:
You and I may not be judges, but we know corporations and unions aren't people and money ain't speech
Don seems utterly unaware that thanks to the printing presses and web platform provided by Lee Newspapers, his opinion is more widely read than most of the voices out here on the internet. If "money ain't speech", Don, then it should be no problem to give up your job and blog for free. Or as Ogden Nash wrote
Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won't buy, but it's very funny -- Have you ever tried to buy them without money?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar eclipse from Lincoln, NE

A couple of decent sunspot groups visible. One other is already covered by the moon. Nothing fancy. Spotting scope, projected on a piece of paper, photographed with a Canon DLR.

Monday, May 14, 2012

You say that like it's a bad thing...

Chuck Hagel on the modern GOP:
If Nixon or Eisenhower were alive today, they would be run out of the party
Chuck is proud of Richard Nixon? Aside from Watergate, Tricky Dick introduced price controls, invented Affirmative Action, and presided over the start of an era of massive inflation. What exactly is there to love, here?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Obama re-election campaign compromises war against al-Qaida

You won't read this in a US newspaper, except perhaps on page B21, but the lead story in the London Times this morning described the British government as 'extremely angry' that a leak from the White House revealed the identity of the covert British-Saudi agent behind the uncovering of the most recent underwear bomb plot. For those of you unfamiliar with British understatement,'extremely angry' translates into 'Murrican as 'apocalyptically furious'.
“If you’re MI5 and you’re trying to recruit a young British Pakistani or British Arab in the future, how do you persuade them that their actions and their potential identity ... [aren’t] going to be splashed across The New York Times the next week?” Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, said.
In fact, an entire sphere of operations might have been affected:
A particular problem was the widespread circulation of details about the undercover operation to infiltrate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a senior serving US defence official. Staff in at least four US Government departments, as well as the CIA and the FBI, were on the “need to know” list.
The leak, of course, was all part of last week's pathetic efforts to 'spike the ball' on the killing of Osama, and to portray Obama as tough on terrorism, a pathetically venal reason to jeopardize the intelligence efforts of a loyal ally.
The London Times' leading article (their main unsigned op-ed) also castigated this leak. Yes, it's a big deal, of which your liberal news media will be sure to keep you as uninformed as possible.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today in Bob Kerrey history: May 9, 2001

Eleven years ago today, highly respected human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch called for an investigation of Bob Kerrey's squad's actions in the Tranh Phong atrocity.
In a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch said recent disclosures by former Senator Bob Kerrey concerning his service as a junior officer in a Navy SEAL team in 1969 suggested that certain military units then operated under standing orders or employed methods that directly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, resulting in "grave breaches" of that Convention, or war crimes.
Note that they are discussing what Bob Kerrey himself admitted to, not the more serious allegations of Gerhard Klann.
The allegation that members of the team killed unarmed persons in their custody, however, warrants specific investigation by the U.S. government: if proved, such acts would clearly constitute war crimes, for which there is no statute of limitations, and should result in prosecutions.
The major Nebraska newspapers are still silent on the matter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The backtracking from Bob Kerrey's liberal positions continues...

Bob Kerrey, speaking with his favorite shill yesterday...
The president should have waited to fix our health care system until after our economy had recovered
Bob Kerrey, in a letter he wrote (with Warren Rudman and Pete Peterson) to Harry Reid in October 2009:
We have followed the health care reform debate very carefully. We applaud you and the entire Congress for focusing on what we consider to be the most important and most difficult public policy issue.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The difference between a journalist and a shill

Don Walton has been an unpaid volunteer for Bob Kerrey's various campaigns for over a quarter century. He's even owned up (probably in a weak moment) to his bromantic feelings for Kerrey. But it's useful to take his latest Kerrey press-release, a.k.a. Lincoln Journal Star piece, and examine what could turn its naked shilling into actual journalism.

The first key to analyzing Don the Shill is that when he approves of what you say, he paraphrases it, probably to improve its phrasing. When he doesn't like you, he usually quotes. So, he paraphrases Kerrey:

It's time to have a conversation about whether to consider a constitutional amendment that would replace partisan election of members of Congress with the non-partisan feature of the legislative system modeled in Nebraska, he said.
A real journalist would follow up with "Is there anyone in the entire country, Bob, that thinks this is a feasible idea, let alone a good idea? Most people in the country don't even know Nebraska has a formally non-partisan legislature, which really isn't non-partisan at all. How are you going to get 2/3 of Congress, fierce partisans to a man, to vote for this? Does a single sitting congressperson agree with it? Isn't it entirely out of left field -- the usual 'Cosmic Bob' nonsense, in fact?" (Well, maybe the journalist might be a little less combative!)

More Don:

When he was the Democratic governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987, Kerrey said, he was able to achieve legislative results that would not have been possible if the Legislature had been divided and organized by party.
This would be an opportunity for a real journalist to ask about the scandals of Kerrey's single-term governorship, his use of public resources for personal enrichment, the personal counsel and transition team chief who milked a savings and loan dry and then got out of town, his appointed Attorney General (a Republican, natch) who stalled until the statute of limitations ran out and then became his Senate chief-of-staff. Is this the sort of bipartisanship we want; a two-party conspiracy to raid the public till?

The Bob goes on to attack the Republicans he supposedly wants to make common cause with:

Kerrey said he has watched the Republican Senate candidates "move farther to the right and stake out positions" that will make it difficult for any of them to work in a bipartisan manner.
A real journalist might have taken the opportunity to ask why, in those cases where a substantial bipartisan majority actually existed in the Senate, such as for welfare reform (twice) and for banning partial birth abortion, Kerrey instead chose to vote with the extreme left of his party against the bipartisan majority.
"Democrats are wrong to dig in and resist changes in Medicare," he said. "You've got to solve the underfunded liability for Medicare and Social Security. It isn't fair to people under 40 to do nothing."
A real journalist might have asked why Bob didn't get behind the Ryan plan, or even propose some follow-up ideas; and why he supported PPACA, which stripped even more money from Medicare...and why he hasn't publicly criticized the Democrats who have tried to make GOP medicare reform plans a campaign issue.

You would also quote a Kerrey supporter, Ben Nelson, but no critics:

Nelson described Republican Senate candidates Jon Bruning, Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer as "three peas in a pod who would lower taxes on the well-to-do while raising them on a million middle-income Nebraskans."
A young journalist can learn a lot from Don. Do all the things he doesn't do.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today's stoopid from the Lincoln Journal Star, with an assist to Carl Eskridge

The Journal Star editorial board continued its record of ignorance this morning:
Eskridge pointed out that Lincoln is home to the only flagship campus in the Big Ten without legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identify.
I presume Eskridge meant 'gender identity'. It's wrong, regardless. The actual University of Nebraska Lincoln policy
It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln not to discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.
And even if this policy were not in place, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, as a state institution, is not subject to city anti discrimination ordinances, which may in any case be invalid if they go beyond state protections.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bob Kerrey and racial segregation at UNL; the DN article

Click on the picture above, and you'll get a .gif file of the Daily Nebraskan article reporting Bob Kerrey's vote against a resolution urging the desegregation of UNL student organizations.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A momentous day

My fellow Americans:

I am proud to announce that today our beloved country reached an awesome milestone. As a nation, we owe, according to the Peterson foundation, $15,692,368,067,305.23. Our population, based on a census bureau estimate for January 1, 2012, of 312,780,968, and increasing at a rate of one person every 17 second, is today 313,401,015 persons. According to my calculations, therefore, for the first time in history, every inhabitant of our great nation, man, woman and child, dirt-poor or Bob Kerrey, owes an average of more than $50,000 as their own personal share of the National Debt. In fact, we each owe $50,071 and 21 cents!

It took many great men and women to make this happen, but the greatest contribution of all comes from our President, Barack Hussein Obama, who is responsible for nearly a third of this truly humungous heap of indebtedness.

Take a bow, Mr. President. Take a bow, my fellow citizens. We are further in hock than any nation in the history of the planet!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lyin' for Gaia

I accidentally came across a @boldnebraska tweet citing this article.

Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds

That's odd, I thought. Almost every birder knows that wind farms are blenders for large birds, particularly raptors and waterfowl. And guess what?. The text of the article indeed confirmed the largest waterfowl in the study area were seriously affected by the wind farm.

The most alarming findings were for the curlew, Britain's largest wader, whose numbers fell 40% in a radius of up to 800m from the site during construction at the 18 windfarms in northern England and Scotland involved in the study. Curlew numbers remained "significantly lower" after the windfarms began operating, after they abandoned nesting sites. Snipe numbers also failed to recover, falling by 53% within 400m of the study sites. Red grouse numbers also fell but rose again after construction finished.
The Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata is classed as a 'near-threatened' species.

Small common songbirds, such as the meadow pipit and stonechat, thrived. But then you can't throw a rock in an open, windy area of Britain without hitting a meadow pipit. Golden plovers, the other larger waterfowl species studied also declined, albeit the results were not definitive.

So the idiot ideologue editor at the Guardian completely inverted the sense of the article. Small surprise there. But what's interesting is the number of greens who have referenced and retweeted the article without (apparently) reading beyond the completely false headline. I doubt anyone at BoldNebraska knows a curlew from a chickadee, but also Greenpeace, the Daily Kos, and climate change groupie Heidi Cullen.

This bears out a frequent observation of mine; that most 'greens' love the environment from the safety of a small urban apartment and their copy of National Geographic, and mainly for the potential it offers to stick their noses in other people's lives. They like wind farms because they make other people's power supplies less certain and more expensive. They actually have no conception of what a large wind farm does to the environment around it, and mostly, they don't care, because they rarely get out anywhere one might build a wind farm.


BTW, full disclosure: the pic is a long-billed curlew, an American close relative of the Eurasian curlew. I've never gotten close enough to the latter with a good enough camera to get a decent picture. They're shy. As in "stay well away from big whooshing tower" shy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why does the US Post Office still exist?

They may have been a time when a nation needed a government run postal service. That time is not today. 90%+ of our communication runs via the internet. Most of us pay nearly all our bills online. Most of us don't trust the Post Office to deliver important documents or merchandise, preferring to entrust them to private vendors. I still have a mailbox, which every day collects an ever dwindling stock of coupons and junk mail, delivered inefficiently by a rural postal carrier from a post office ten miles distant. Nonetheless, the USPS has a monopoly on that receptacle, and can theoretically prosecute any private party that deposits anything in it. It's ludicrous.

Germany, hardly a bastion of wide-eyed libertarianism, privatized its postal service ten years ago. Deutsche Post is doing quite well as a private company. It bought DHL, and its stock price has doubled in the past three years. Why don't we do the same? Brief answer -- labor unions. The USPS has no fewer than four labor unions, which fight any attempt to shut down their overpaid, high-benefit gummint jobs.

The USPS is, of course, going broke, and recently announced a plan to close a large number of rural post offices (including mine), and many mail processing centers. A combination of unions and rural Luddites lobbied for a bailout costing $11 bn, which will be nominally taken from payments to the Federal Retirement system -- but of course, it's all one big pool of Federal money, and this ultimately becomes part of the national debt. To its everlasting disgrace, the Senate voted 62-37 for the comically named 'Postal Reform Bill' (if only). 13 Republicans -- may they be primaried -- voted for it. 4 Democrats voted against it. Even the Postmaster General thinks it's a piece of crap.

Needless to say, the contemptible Don Walton of the LJS exulted over Ben Nelson's vote for the 'bipartisan' piece of legislation, and noted Mike Johanns voted against it.

Take my mail service -- please! I'll happily buy a mailbox in town if you'll simply deduct from my taxes the humungous cost of delivery.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bob Kerrey and racial segregation at UNL

Bob Kerrey, when he served on the University of Nebraska's Student Council, spoke and voted against a resolution urging student organizations at UNL to delete racial restrictions from their constitutions. The vote was 27:8 in favor, so Bob voted with a small minority.
Speaking against the resolution, Bob Kerrey cited Negro apathy as a justification for the Council's not taking action. Kerrey quoted one Negro in the report as saying "It doesn't bother me if they don't like me because of the color of my skin, as long as they don't say so to my face." Two Negro students spoke to the Council in behalf of the resolution.
There was at least one fraternity at UNL in 1965 that explicitly barred African Americans.