Archive for June, 2009
30 Jun 2009

Sotomayor Reversed Again

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Sonia Sotomayor: Wrong Again

Sonia Sotomayor’s dismal record of Supreme Court reversals is worse by one more. It now stands 6 out of 7, with the Court, however, unanimously rejecting her argument in the single ruling that was upheld. Sotomayor’s reasoning in that case, however, was not merely rejected. It was scathingly described as “fl(ying) in the face of the statutory language.”

Stuart Taylor Jr. explains that on rejecting Sotomayor’s ruling this time the decision was not even close.

The Supreme Court’s predictable 5-4 vote to reverse the decision by Judge Sonia Sotomayor and two federal appeals court colleagues against 17 white (and one Hispanic) plaintiffs in the now-famous New Haven, Conn., firefighters decision does not by itself prove that the Sotomayor position was unreasonable.

After all, it was hardly to be expected that the five more conservative justices — who held that the city had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by refusing to promote the firefighters with the highest scores on a job-related promotional exam because none were black — would endorse an Obama nominee’s ruling to the contrary.

What’s more striking is that the court was unanimous in rejecting the Sotomayor panel’s specific holding. Her holding was that New Haven’s decision to spurn the test results must be upheld based solely on the fact that highly disproportionate numbers of blacks had done badly on the exam and might file a “disparate-impact” lawsuit — regardless of whether the exam was valid or the lawsuit could succeed.

This position is so hard to defend, in my view, that I hazarded a prediction in my June 13 column: “Whichever way the Supreme Court rules in the case later this month, I will be surprised if a single justice explicitly approves the specific, quota-friendly logic of the Sotomayor-endorsed… opinion” by U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton.

Unlike some of my predictions, this one proved out. In fact, even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 39-page dissent for the four more liberal justices quietly but unmistakably rejected the Sotomayor-endorsed position that disparate racial results alone justified New Haven’s decision to dump the promotional exam without even inquiring into whether it was fair and job-related.

It really ought to be a serious factor in the evaluation of a nominee for the Supreme Court that the person has compiled so consistent a record of decisions requiring reversal.

Ricci v. DeStefano

30 Jun 2009

We’re a Banana Republic Now, Folks

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A small Latin American country actually stands up to imminent dictatorship. Its Supreme Court defends the country’s Constitution and its Army enforces the law, removing from office the president who was in the process of overthrowing the Constitution and making himself into a dictator.

Splendid! Democracy and the rule of law triumphs for once in Latin America. But, how does the US Government in the Age of Obama respond?

Barack Obama joins Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Daniel Ortega in condemning the removal of the criminal from office. Evidently, democracy for Mr. Obama is a one-way street. Democracy is inviolable with respect to the election of Marxists (like himself), but once in office any winner of a democratic election on the left is perfectly free to declare that the game is over, he will now govern by decree, and no further real elections are required. In future, the democratically-elected Marxist administration will count all the votes, Chicago-style, aided by organized supporters (like ACORN) who will intimidate opponents and register hosts of imaginary voters and the deceased while driving busloads of winos and welfare scum from precinct to precinct to cast ballots early and often. That’s real democracy in action.

Reuters:

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and would set a “terrible precedent” of transition by military force unless it was reversed.

“We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there,” Obama told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Zelaya, in office since 2006, was overthrown in a dawn coup on Sunday after he angered the judiciary, Congress and the army by seeking constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek re-election beyond a four-year term.

The Honduran Congress named an interim president, Roberto Micheletti, and the country’s Supreme Court said it had ordered the army to remove Zelaya. …

Obama said he would work with the Organization of American States and other international institutions to restore Zelaya to power and “see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way.”

Personally, I think the Honduran army made one serious mistake. They exiled the dictator, instead of hailing him before a military tribunal and executing him. Now he will be playing political games from abroad, seeking foreign intervention to restore him to power.

And who knows? Some Marxist regime, Cuba, Venezuela, or the United States, might intervene and return him forcibly to power.

30 Jun 2009

George Friedman: The Real Story in Iran

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Stratfor’s George Friedman puts a regional analyst’s gloss on recent events in Iran, contending that current disorders really only represent a power struggle between competing Revolutionary Islamist factions, that the struggle for democracy depicted in the international media is a gross oversimplification pandering to Western stereotypes and wishful thinking, and that, whoever wins, Iran will not cease to be anti-Western, religiously bigoted and fanatical, a state sponsor of terrorism, and eager to use the development of nuclear weapons as a threat.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ran his re-election campaign against the old clerical elite, charging them with corruption, luxurious living and running the state for their own benefit rather than that of the people. He particularly targeted Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an extremely senior leader, and his family. Indeed, during the demonstrations, Rafsanjani’s daughter and four other relatives were arrested, held and then released a day later.

Rafsanjani represents the class of clergy that came to power in 1979. He served as president from 1989-1997, but Ahmadinejad defeated him in 2005. Rafsanjani carries enormous clout within the system as head of the regime’s two most powerful institutions — the Expediency Council, which arbitrates between the Guardian Council and parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, whose powers include oversight of the supreme leader. Forbes has called him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Rafsanjani, in other words, remains at the heart of the post-1979 Iranian establishment.

Ahmadinejad expressly ran his recent presidential campaign against Rafsanjani, using the latter’s family’s vast wealth to discredit Rafsanjani along with many of the senior clerics who dominate the Iranian political scene. It was not the regime as such that he opposed, but the individuals who currently dominate it. Ahmadinejad wants to retain the regime, but he wants to repopulate the leadership councils with clerics who share his populist values and want to revive the ascetic foundations of the regime. The Iranian president constantly contrasts his own modest lifestyle with the opulence of the current religious leadership.

Recognizing the threat Ahmadinejad represented to him personally and to the clerical class he belongs to, Rafsanjani fired back at Ahmadinejad, accusing him of having wrecked the economy. At his side were other powerful members of the regime, including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, who has made no secret of his antipathy toward Ahmadinejad and whose family links to the Shiite holy city of Qom give him substantial leverage. The underlying issue was about the kind of people who ought to be leading the clerical establishment. The battlefield was economic: Ahmadinejad’s charges of financial corruption versus charges of economic mismanagement leveled by Rafsanjani and others.

When Ahmadinejad defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi on the night of the election, the clerical elite saw themselves in serious danger. The margin of victory Ahmadinejad claimed might have given him the political clout to challenge their position. Mousavi immediately claimed fraud, and Rafsanjani backed him up. Whatever the motives of those in the streets, the real action was a knife fight between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani. By the end of the week, Khamenei decided to end the situation. In essence, he tried to hold things together by ordering the demonstrations to halt while throwing a bone to Rafsanjani and Mousavi by extending a probe into the election irregularities and postponing a partial recount by five days.

The key to understanding the situation in Iran is realizing that the past weeks have seen not an uprising against the regime, but a struggle within the regime. Ahmadinejad is not part of the establishment, but rather has been struggling against it, accusing it of having betrayed the principles of the Islamic Revolution. The post-election unrest in Iran therefore was not a matter of a repressive regime suppressing liberals (as in Prague in 1989), but a struggle between two Islamist factions that are each committed to the regime, but opposed to each other.

The demonstrators certainly included Western-style liberalizing elements, but they also included adherents of senior clerics who wanted to block Ahmadinejad’s re-election. And while Ahmadinejad undoubtedly committed electoral fraud to bulk up his numbers, his ability to commit unlimited fraud was blocked, because very powerful people looking for a chance to bring him down were arrayed against him.

The situation is even more complex because it is not simply a fight between Ahmadinejad and the clerics, but also a fight among the clerical elite regarding perks and privileges — and Ahmadinejad is himself being used within this infighting. The Iranian president’s populism suits the interests of clerics who oppose Rafsanjani; Ahmadinejad is their battering ram. But as Ahmadinejad increases his power, he could turn on his patrons very quickly. In short, the political situation in Iran is extremely volatile, just not for the reason that the media portrayed.

Rafsanjani is an extraordinarily powerful figure in the establishment who clearly sees Ahmadinejad and his faction as a mortal threat. Ahmadinejad’s ability to survive the unified opposition of the clergy, election or not, is not at all certain. But the problem is that there is no unified clergy. The supreme leader is clearly trying to find a new political balance while making it clear that public unrest will not be tolerated. Removing “public unrest” (i.e., demonstrations) from the tool kits of both sides may take away one of Rafsanjani’s more effective tools. But ultimately, it actually could benefit him. Should the internal politics move against the Iranian president, it would be Ahmadinejad — who has a substantial public following — who would not be able to have his supporters take to the streets.

The question for the rest of the world is simple: Does it matter who wins this fight?…

(T)here was no democratic uprising of any significance in Iran. Second, there is a major political crisis within the Iranian political elite, the outcome of which probably tilts toward Ahmadinejad but remains uncertain. Third, there will be no change in the substance of Iran’s foreign policy, regardless of the outcome of this fight. The fantasy of a democratic revolution overthrowing the Islamic Republic — and thus solving everyone’s foreign policy problems a la the 1991 Soviet collapse — has passed.

Depressing, and he may be right.

Read the whole thing.

29 Jun 2009

BMW Z4 Hits a Deer

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When a BMW Z4 hits a deer at 140 mph (225.3 kph), this is what happens.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

28 Jun 2009

EPA Quashes Skeptical Internal Report

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You probably won’t be reading in the Times or the Post about Barack Obama’s EPA suppressing an internal report questioning global warming and advising against hasty policy decisions. But CNET has the story.

The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages.

Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty “decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.”

The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message (PDF) to a staff researcher on March 17: “The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward…and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.”

The e-mail correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be an independent review process inside a federal agency–and echoes criticisms of the EPA under the Bush administration, which was accused of suppressing a pro-climate change document.

The suppressed reports notes that global temperatures have declined for eleven years, during which time atmospheric CO2 levels have increased and CO2 emissions accelerated.

28 Jun 2009

Cap’n Morgan Plunders $2.7 Billion US Tax Dollars

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Poor little Susie Madrak, at leftie Crooks and Liars, is shocked to learn that our noble democrat legislators helped Captain Morgan open the US Treasury’s vault, aided the renowned bucananeer (who sails out of London town) to load his dinghy right up to the gunwales with $2.7 billion of US taxpayers’ gold dubloons, and then waved happily as the pirate rowed away.

I’m getting so tired of these stories. I mean, what’s the point? Americans are perfectly happy to stay home and watch TV while our elected officials rob us blind and we struggle along without needed health care:

    June 26 (Bloomberg) — In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island — Puerto Rico — to another, namely St. Croix.

    DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.

    Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October’s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light.

    The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers — and London’s Diageo.

    “It’s kind of like the magician’s sleight of hand,” says former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas, a California Republican who ran the committee from 2001 to 2007 and oversaw all tax legislation. “They snuck these things in a bill that was focused on other things.”

Wasn’t there an old music hall song about this sort of thing?

It’s the same the whole world over
Governments are all the same
It’s the poor who pays the taxes
It’s the rich what gets the TARP funds
Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame?

28 Jun 2009

Why Froomkin Got the Axe

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When the Washington Post announced it was terminating the blog written by Dan Froomkin, howls of outrage arose from the left blogosphere, along with paranoid accusations of WaPo free speech being curtailed by sinister neocon influence. Right! At the same Washington Post employing Dana Priest to leak national security secrets.

I was wondering myself though what went down, and today I finally found an explanation by Andrew Alexander. It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t political, it was just about the money.

(B)ased on my discussions with others at The Post, as well as Froomkin, here’s my take.

First, it’s not about ideology. My original Omblog post quoted Hiatt as saying Froomkin’s “political orientation was not a factor in our decision.” In my discussions with Froomkin, he has not cited ideology as the primary reason. And several veteran Post reporters have dismissed that as the cause. In an online chat this week, Post Pulitzer-winning columnist Gene Weingarten, who expressed “respect” for Froomkin and regret that White House Watch was ending, said: “I don’t know why Froomkin’s column was dropped, but I can tell you that the diabolical conspiracy talk is nuts. Froomkin wasn’t dropped because he is too liberal; things just don’t work that way at the Post.” It’s also worth noting that The Post hired Ezra Klein, a liberal political blogger, within the past several months.

Second, reduced traffic played a big role. White House Watch had substantial traffic during the Bush administration, but it declined noticeably when President Obama took office. The Post will not disclose precise numbers. Froomkin acknowledges the drop but told me much of it can be blamed on a change in format and poor promotion. He said that shifting White House Watch from a column to a blog when Obama took office was disruptive to his audience and “dramatically reduced the number of page views per reader.” He also said poor promotion, especially through links from the home page, had caused traffic to dip. “I felt that with adequate promotion, page views would have been much higher,” he said.

Third, money was a factor. The Post is losing money. The Washington Post Co.’s newspaper division, which is dominated by The Post, reported a first-quarter operating loss of nearly $54 million. Every aspect of The Post’s print and online operation is being scrutinized for cost-cutting. Thus, when editors detected the drop-off in Froomkin’s traffic and looked at what he is being paid (a former Post Web site editor puts it “in the $90,000-to-$100,000” range), he became vulnerable.

Finally, there was disagreement over changing the direction of White House Watch. Some reporters and editors at The Post view Froomkin as a superb, hard-working “aggregator” whose blog needed more original reporting. Weingarten, without expressing his own judgment, alluded to this in his chat: “I can tell you that there has been some disagreement about Froomkin’s column over the years between the paper-paper and dotcom; the issue, I think, was whether he was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the White House for years.” Froomkin said his editors were urging changes in White House Watch, and he acknowledged
disagreement over content. For example, he was urged not to do media criticism. “I had always considered media criticism a big part of the column, as a lot of what I do is read and comment about what others have written about the White House,” he said.

In the end, Froomkin said that he was told in a recent meeting with his editors that his blog “wasn’t working anymore.”

“They wanted me to do it differently,” he said. But “the public response suggests that the readers were quite happy with it the way it was.”

And that, I think, succinctly captures the issue from both sides. The Post, needing to cut costs, sees a blog that has lost traffic and believes its author is unwilling to adjust to boost his audience. Froomkin acknowledges a traffic decline, but insists he maintains a robust audience and cites the large and loud reaction to his dismissal as evidence.

It raises several questions. Would Froomkin have been willing to work for less? (He did not answer the question when I posed it, and Post editors won’t say whether they offered.)

27 Jun 2009

Farrah Fawcett and Ayn Rand

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When Amy Wallace interviewed the late Farrah Fawcett by email a few months ago for an article about the history of efforts to produce a film version of Atlas Shrugged, she discovered that the blonde actress had had a special relationship with Ayn Rand and had been Ayn Rand’s choice to play Dagny Taggart (!).

How did you first learn of Ayn Rand’s interest in you? I gather she got in touch in the late ’70s, when Charlie’s Angels was one of the biggest hit shows ever to appear on TV?

Ayn contacted me with a personal letter (and a copy of Atlas Shrugged) through my agents. Even though we had never met (and never did), she seemed to think we must have a lot in common since we were both born on the same day: February 2nd.

Why did Rand say she was so determined to see you in the role of Dagny Taggart, the female heroine in Atlas Shrugged?

I don’t remember if Ayn’s letter specifically mentioned Charlie’s Angels, but I do remember it saying that she was a fan of my work. A few months later, when we finally spoke on the phone (actually she did most of the speaking and I did most of the listening), she said she never missed an episode of the show. I remember being surprised and flattered by that. I mean, here was this literary genius praising Angels. After all, the show was never popular with critics who dismissed it as “Jiggle TV.” But Ayn saw something that the critics didn’t, something that I didn’t see either (at least not until many years later): She described the show as a “triumph of concept and casting.” Ayn said that while Angels was uniquely American, it was also the exception to American television in that it was the only show to capture true “romanticism”—it intentionally depicted the world not as it was, but as it should be. Aaron Spelling was probably the only other person to see Angels that way, although he referred to it as “comfort television.”

Did Ayn have any favorite episodes of the show?

I have to admit that I don’t think Ayn was a big fan of the stories themselves because she kept saying that someday somebody would offer me a script (and a role) that would give me the chance to “triumph as an actress.” Ayn wanted that script to be Atlas Shrugged and that role to be her heroine, Dagny Taggart. But because of the challenges in adapting and producing the novel for television, several years went by and the script and role that Ayn hoped I would someday be offered turned out to be The Burning Bed and the role of Francine Hughes instead. And so, in an unexpected way, Ayn’s hope or expectation for me did come true. Looking back, she seemed to see something in me that I had not yet seen in myself.

Had you read Atlas Shrugged or any of her other famous books? What was your familiarity with the Rand world view?

At the time that Ayn contacted me about Atlas Shrugged, my only real familiarity with her work was the movie version of her previous novel, The Fountainhead, with Gary Cooper. I remember liking the movie because it was unique in that the characters seemed to be the embodiments of ideas as opposed to real flesh and blood people with interests and lives. Now that I think about it, I think that’s why Ayn was drawn to Charlie’s Angels. Because the characters that Kate, Jaclyn and I played weren’t really characters (the audience never saw us outside of work) as much as personifications of the idea that three sexy women could do all the things that Kojak and Columbo did. Our characters existed only to serve the idea of the show (even “Charlie” was just a faceless voice on a speaker phone).

But I also responded to The Fountainhead because, as an artist (a painter and sculptress) myself, I related to the architect’s resistance to make his work like everyone else’s—which was, of course, what Ayn’s own art was all about. And that resistance to conformity is probably one of the reasons that she was so determined to see me play Dagny: At the time I would have been the completely unexpected choice.

It sounds as if you and Rand got along pretty well.

Later, when I read Atlas Shrugged, I was reminded of my first and only conversation with Ayn and how some of the characters in her novel(s) take an immediate liking to each other, almost as if they had always known each other—at least in spirit. And this was the feeling I got from Ayn herself, from the way she spoke to me. I’ll always think of “Dagny Taggart” as the best role I was supposed to play but never did…

27 Jun 2009

New Customs Rule Proposes to Ban Assisted Opening Knives

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The Washington Times reports that Republican efforts to block the Obama Administration’s covert knife ban have failed in the House.

(N)ew knife rules proposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would affect the interpretation of the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 to include any spring-assisted or one-handed-opening knife.

The law defines a “switchblade” as any knife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle, or by operation of inertia or gravity.

Critics of the regulation – including U.S. knife manufacturers and collectors, the National Rifle Association, sportsmen’s groups and a bipartisan group of at least 79 House members – say it would rewrite U.S. law defining what constitutes a switchblade and potentially make de facto criminals of the estimated 35 million Americans who use folding knives.

Opponents are in a race against time because of the quick pace of the rule-making process – a 30-day comment period that ended Monday, followed by a 30-day implementation schedule.

“We now move to the Senate side where we hope for better luck and have more time to prepare, coordinate with other groups and marshal our forces,” said Doug Ritter, executive director of Knife Rights Inc., an advocacy group fighting to defeat the measure….

Customs officials dismiss fears that the new language will outlaw ordinary pocketknives, saying the change was issued to clear up conflicting guidelines for border agents about what constitutes an illegal switchblade that cannot be imported into the United States. The rule could be imposed within 30 days if not blocked.

26 Jun 2009

House Vote Today on New Smoot-Hawley Bill, Biggest Tax Increase in American History

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Jim Lindgren, at Volokh Conspiracy, warns that today is the day. The key basis for Barack Obama and the democrat party’s new Even Greater Depression will be voted on in the House of Representatives today. If Nancy Pelosi can bribe enough farm state democrats with ethanol subsidies into getting in line, you may very well need to kiss the American Economy as you’ve know it good-bye.

Before the last few years, scholars used to say that we couldn’t get a depression today because policymakers wouldn’t make mistakes as bad as the ones they made in the 1930s. Though we’ve made some great moves in the last year — increasing the money supply and guaranteeing money markets funds — we’re also repeating many of the same mistakes as Hoover and FDR (propping up failing industries; raising taxes; wasting money on unneeded public works projects; corruption; expensive new anti-business government programs).

Certainly, the Smoot-Hawley bill of 1930 was dumb; it imposed huge tariffs on foreign goods imported into this country, which backfired when those countries raised their tariffs too. In a sense, cap-and-trade looked like it would be even dumber; it seemed that it might impose a tariff on our own US manufactured goods, but not on foreign goods. But the House realized this and decided to require the administration to impose tariffs on goods imported from countries that don’t restrict their own emissions to the same extent as the US (tip to Maguire and OandO. This 21st century version of Smoot-Hawley will probably take years before the tariffs will be imposed.

The cap-and-trade bill, if passed by the Senate and actually implemented over the next few decades, would do more damage to the country than any economic legislation passed in at least 100 years. It would eventually send most American manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce American competitiveness, and make Americans much poorer than they would have been without it.

The cap-and-trade bill will have little, if any, positive effect on the environment — in part because the countries that would take jobs from US industries tend to be bigger polluters. By making the US — and the world — poorer, it would probably reduce the world’s ability to develop technologies that might solve its environmental problems in the future.

If this bill were very likely to pass the Senate and if the restrictions were to be phased in quicker in the early years of the program than the bill provides, then a double-dip recession would be a near certainty.

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The Wall Street Journal explains how much this is going to cost.

Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill’s restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.

Note also that the CBO analysis is an average for the country as a whole. It doesn’t take into account the fact that certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others — manufacturing states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more of their disposable income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families.

Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won’t pinch wallets, behind the scenes they’ve acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.

The reality is that cost estimates for climate legislation are as unreliable as the models predicting climate change. What comes out of the computer is a function of what politicians type in. A better indicator might be what other countries are already experiencing. Britain’s Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years.

Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can’t repeal that reality.

26 Jun 2009

Foxhound Pack Adopts Fallow Deer

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Foxhounds are large (65-70 lbs. – 29-32 kilos.) and powerful animals. They are astonishingly muscular, and a hound pack is fully capable of running for many miles, pulling down, tearing to pieces and devouring its quarry rapidly and on the spot.

Yet, those familiar with hounds often describe the hound temperament as “sweet.” Hounds will eagerly jump up on strangers to lick their faces and be petted, and it is a routine practice as exhibitions to release a pack to be petted and roll around with small children.

Hounds traditionally hunted deer before they hunted foxes. Consequently, the return of the white-tail deer to much of its original range in the Eastern United States in the 1950s and 1960s had a tremendous impact on hunting and hound breeding.

Ben Hardaway, the renowned and colorful Master of Georgia’s Midland Foxhounds, often recounts how, when deer arrived in his territory, he found he could not stop his beloved July-strain American foxhounds from chasing deer, and successfully running them down and eating them.

Hardaway found himself obliged to travel to Britain and Ireland in search of deer-proof strains of foxhounds, and he proceeded to blend appropriate British foxhound strains with American, adding a soupçon of Penn Marydel, to produce what became recognized as a new, very widely used category of foxhound, the Crossbred.

Hardaway’s impact on hound breeding has been so great that he was recently honored by the North American Museum of Hounds and Hunting by admission to its Hall of Fame Huntsman’s Room, an honor rarely conferred on a living sportsman.

It is, therefore, interesting to find that the 30 couple (60) of foxhounds of the Chiddingfield, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, whose territory is in Surrey and Sussex, recently adopted a ten-week old fallow deer (Dama dama) fawn, allowing him to accompany the pack on its off-season walks.

Huntsman Adrian Thompson, however, expressed a disinclination to allow the fawn to hunt with his hounds next Autumn. He does not think the young deer would have the stamina to keep up with hounds. (Maybe someone will offer him a ride, and BamBam will be able to car follow.)

Daily Mail

Telegraph

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Jun 2009

View From My Window

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We live on top of the Blue Ridge, a narrow 1500′ (457.2m.) high mountain separating the Virginia Piedmont from the Shenandoah Valley, at the very northern end of Virginia.

This morning, around 7:30 AM EDT, I happened to look out of the rear window of our second floor hallway, and saw walking purposefully from north to south across our backyard directly behind the house a fully-grown black bear (Ursus americanus).

That was as close as I’ve ever seen a bear outside captivity.

Yesterday, in the afternoon, I saw in the same yard two hen turkeys supervising either end of a long line of very small turkey poults. There were more than a dozen baby turkeys. Apparently, two mothers were walking their offspring together, keeping them under close control like a pair of elementary school teachers on a science tour.

25 Jun 2009

Sarychev Peak, Kuril Islands

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Just by good luck, the International Space Station happened to be passing over Sarychev Peak on Matua Island in the Kuril Islands on June 12th at the perfect time to allow astronauts to photograph its volcanic eruption.

NASA Earth Observatory

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

25 Jun 2009

June 24th: Mullahs Crackdown on Protests

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Iranian woman describes regime brutality in Baharestan Square, Teheran CNN 4:04 video

Snipers firing on protesters 0:59 video

Irish reporter abducted, forced to leave Iran.

70 professors arrested for meeting with Moussavi.

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