Archive for March, 2010
28 Mar 2010

European Grape Vine Moth Arrives in California Wine Country

, , , , , , , , ,

European Grape Vine Moth, Lobesia botrana

The California Department of Agriculture has quarantined 162 square miles in the heart of California wine country, including portions of Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. A larva of the European Grape Vine Moth (EGVM – Lobesia botrana) was captured in a trap near Oakville last September 15, marking the first appearance in North America of a pest native to Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and the Caucasus.

Suitcase smuggling of clone cuttings from top European vineyards in order to avoid sclerotic seven year USDA quarantines is rumored to have been used to create top-rated new vineyards during the 1980s, and informal evasion of the same regulations is rumored to be responsible for the recent arrival of EGVM.

AP and USDA officials are scolding and blaming scofflaws for the outbreak, noting that if the moth had arrived innocently via container ship, you’d expect to find the first examples around a port, not in the heart of Napa.

But Greg Clark, deputy agricultural commissioner for Napa County, actually hinted at deliberate introduction aimed at intentional sabotage of rival producers. “”Even small percentage or a fraction of a percentage in market share has the potential to benefit someone financially,” said Clark.

Quarantine map 1 – Napa

Quarantine map 2 – Napa, Napa/Solano

Quarantine map 3 – Yountville

27 Mar 2010

What’s Next?

, , ,

Charles Krauthammer explains the inevitable, long desired by socialists, consequences of the health care bill.

We are now $8 trillion in debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects that $12 trillion will be added over the next decade. Obamacare, when stripped of its budgetary gimmicks — the unfunded $200 billion-plus “doctor fix,” the double counting of Medicare cuts, the 10-6 sleight-of-hand (counting 10 years of revenue and only six years of outflows) — is at minimum a $2 trillion new entitlement.

It will vastly increase the debt. But even if it were revenue-neutral, Obamacare preempts and appropriates for itself the best and easiest means of reducing the existing deficit. Obamacare’s $500 billion of cuts in Medicare and $600 billion in tax hikes are no longer available for deficit reduction. They are siphoned off for the new entitlement of insuring the uninsured.

This is fiscally disastrous because, as President Obama himself explained last year in unveiling his grand transformational policies, our unsustainable fiscal path requires control of entitlement spending, the most ruinous of which is out-of-control health-care costs.

Obamacare was sold on the premise that, as Nancy Pelosi put it, “health-care reform is entitlement reform. Our budget cannot take this upward spiral of cost.” But the bill enacted on Tuesday accelerates the spiral: It radically expands Medicaid (adding 15 million recipients/dependents) and shamelessly raids Medicare by spending on a new entitlement the $500 billion in cuts and the yield from the Medicare tax hikes.

Obama knows that the debt bomb is looming, that Moody’s is warning that the Treasury’s AAA rating is in jeopardy, that we are headed for a run on the dollar and/or hyperinflation if nothing is done.

Hence his deficit-reduction commission. It will report (surprise!) after the November elections.

What will it recommend? What can it recommend? Sure, Social Security can be trimmed by raising the retirement age, introducing means testing and changing the indexing formula from wage growth to price inflation.

But this won’t be nearly enough. As Obama has repeatedly insisted, the real money is in health-care costs — which are locked in place by the new Obamacare mandates.

That’s where the value-added tax comes in. For the politician, it has the virtue of expediency: People are used to sales taxes, and this one produces a river of revenue. Every 1 percent of VAT would yield up to $1 trillion a decade (depending on what you exclude — if you exempt food, for example, the yield would be more like $900 billion).

It’s the ultimate cash cow. Obama will need it. By introducing universal health care, he has pulled off the largest expansion of the welfare state in four decades. And the most expensive. Which is why all of the European Union has the VAT. Huge VATs. Germany: 19 percent. France and Italy: 20 percent. Most of Scandinavia: 25 percent.

American liberals have long complained that ours is the only advanced industrial country without universal health care. Well, now we shall have it. And as we approach European levels of entitlements, we will need European levels of taxation.

27 Mar 2010

New Census Category: “Confederate Southern American”

, , , , , , ,

The seal of the Confederate States of America

The Southern Legal Resource Center wants to use the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 to protect the civil rights of a generally unrecognized minority. It wants persons of Southern Confederate ancestry to be recognized as a racial group. Sounds fair to me. But what about more recently arrived Confederates like myself? I was born in Pennsylvania, and my ancestors were all residing in Lithuania at the time of the late unpleasantness, but I currently do claim citizenship in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Shouldn’t more recent immigrants be able to claim “Confederate Southern American” status via naturalization?

I guess I’ll just have to fill out my census form as suggested, and take my chances.

Via Federal Eye.

3:35 video

26 Mar 2010

Obama Has Increased the National Debt More than 43 Previous Presidents Combined

, , , , , ,

43 Previous Presidents

Michael J. Boskin, a professor of Economics at Stanford, identifies what Barack Obama has managed to accomplish in under two years. He certainly has racked up one very startling statistic.

Mr. Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents — from George Washington to George W. Bush — combined. It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs.

26 Mar 2010

Voting on Viagra For Pedophiles

, , , ,

Yesterday, Rush was joking about the dems being favor of “hardened criminals.” Kimberly Strassel explains the point of the Republican amendments offered during reconciliation.

‘And so when you walk into that ballot box, remember that it was my Democratic opponent who favored providing Viagra to pedophiles.”

That isn’t a campaign line any American has heard yet, but give it a few hours. The Senate this week took up its “reconciliation” bill, with its final changes to the law the president signed Tuesday. It wasn’t so much reconciliation as reckoning.

Democrats only got their ObamaCare victory by breaking every rule, and that was always going to come at a price. To lever the health bill through the House, Democrats used the arcane process of reconciliation. It got them a win, but it also meant Senate Democrats this week had to endure the political equivalent of water-boarding.

Here’s why: reconciliation allowed Republicans to bring up unlimited amendments. Because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) could not allow the reconciliation bill to be changed in any way—which would send it back to the House—his party was obliged to vote down every one of those amendments. And every one had been designed to make even hardened pols whimper.

Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted . . . No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats—because of the process they’d chosen—had to defend it all.

And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!


These votes are “ridiculous” huffed Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd. Republicans are not being “serious” grumped Mr. Reid. Of course, “ridiculous” and “not serious” better apply to ObamaCare, which was in fact the substantive point of amendments like Mr. Coburn’s. A 2005 survey found that some 800 convicted sex offenders had—whoops—received Medicaid-funded impotence drugs. This is what happens when a big, inefficient government runs health care, and as Mr. Coburn noted, it is about to do it on a bigger, more inefficient scale than ever, thanks to ObamaCare.

Since the health bureaucracy can’t be trusted, the only way to guarantee a subsidy’s end is to ban them with legislation. And since Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to help craft the bill, this was Mr. Coburn’s best shot. And since the majority had by then boxed itself in, it is now on record as being OK with little blue pills for pedophiles. Unfortunate, really, since most members obviously are not. But hey, three cheers for reconciliation!

No more hiding, either, by Democrats who voted for ObamaCare even as they claimed to have reservations. Republicans flushed them out, making each individual Democrat stand up to defend each individual piece. The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.

26 Mar 2010

“A Pyrrhic Victory Over the American People”

, ,

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R – 11MI) responds to the socialists’ victory in this 3:45 video. Sound sentiments.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

25 Mar 2010

Castro Congratulated Obama Too Soon


As HuffPo explains, it’s back to the House, where Pandora’s Box opens again.

Senate Republicans succeeded early Thursday morning in finding two flaws in the House-passed health care reconciliation package. Neither is of any substance, but the Senate parliamentarian informed Democratic leaders that both are in violation of the Byrd Rule.

One is related to Pell Grants and the other makes small technical corrections. Why they’re in violation of the Byrd Rule doesn’t matter; the upshot is that Republicans will succeed in at least slightly altering the legislation, which means that the House is once again required to vote on it. With no substantial changes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should have little problem assembling the same coalition of 220 Democrats who passed the measure Sunday night. That’s already four more than the minimum 216 required for passage.

But the ruling might give Democrats another option — the public one.

Democratic leadership no longer has to worry that additional amendments would send it back to the House, since it must return to the lower chamber regardless. The Senate is now free to put to the test that much-debated question of whether 50 votes exist for a public option. Democrats could also elect to expand Medicare or Medicaid, now that they only need 50 votes in the Senate and the approval of the House.

The question then becomes whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could pass the reconciliation changes with a public option. She has long maintained that the House has the votes to do so. Indeed, it did so in late 2009. Since then, however, two members who supported the public option are no longer in the House. But with fewer members, the House also needs two fewer votes than the 218 required for a majority in November, alleviating some of that pressure.

Would they have the votes?

25 Mar 2010

Obamacare Receives Key Endorsement

, ,

Great work, Comrade Barack!

Washington Post:

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform “a miracle” and a major victory for Obama’s presidency, but couldn’t help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

“We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama’s) government,” Castro wrote in an essay published in state media, adding that it would strengthen the president’s hand against lobbyists and “mercenaries.”

But the Cuban leader also used the lengthy piece to criticize the American president for his lack of leadership on climate change and immigration reform, and for his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, among many other things.

And he said it was remarkable that the most powerful country on earth took more than two centuries from its founding to approve something as basic as health benefits for all.

“It is really incredible that 234 years after the Declaration of Independence … the government of that country has approved medical attention for the majority of its citizens, something that Cuba was able to do half a century ago,” Castro wrote.

I agree with Castro. It is incredible that the United States managed to preserve freedom so long.

25 Mar 2010

The Great Reneger

, ,

What a non-PC title! 4:48 video

Hat tip to Tom Seus.

25 Mar 2010

What Would Jefferson Say?

, ,

As democrats complain loudly that Congressmen who voted for Obamacare are being threatened and harassed by outraged voters, John Hinderaker asks aloud, “What Was That Line About the Tree of Liberty and the Blood of Tyrants?”

The peril of the socialist legislators is doubtless being exaggerated in order to score political points, but Power Line makes a telling point in response. If a measure abridging liberty and expanding government authority is so unpopular that legislators are receiving threats from ordinary Americans, doesn’t that suggest that those legislators are not really functioning very effectively as representatives of the people and that something has gone seriously awry in the relationship between the governing and the governed?

24 Mar 2010

Petraeus Testing Presidential Waters in New Hampshire

, , ,

Fox News reports that a potential GOP candidate with an excellent resume who would have considerable appeal as an alternative to the current incumbent in 2012 has made his initial move.

David Howell Petraeus is appearing at one of the customary venues for future primary candidates in New Hampshire.

Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, is giving a talk Wednesday evening at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, a must-see campus for presidential candidates in a must-see state that hosts the first-in-the-nation primaries.

Sure, he owns property in New Hampshire and is registered to vote there. But that hasn’t stopped a new wave of speculation that the modest, scholarly general credited with leading the “surge” that turned around the Iraq war is, if not positioning himself, at least stirring the pot about his presidential prospects. …

Petraeus has been assiduous in shooting down rumors about his political aspirations; in several interviews with Fox News, he has said he has “no desire” to seek elected office.

He pledged no interest in running during an appearance at the Georgetown Law Center in January and again at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia last month.

So objective is Petraeus — a registered Republican — that he told Fox News in December that he stopped voting in 2002.

But it’s impossible to prove a negative — that Petraeus won’t run or isn’t interested — and the fact that most potential candidates deny interest in running this early inevitably leaves that door open.

24 Mar 2010

Nanny State to Bully State

, , , , ,

After Leviathan has seized control of health services and is picking up the tab for your health care, Patrick Basham notes, government intrusion into your personal life and government efforts to reform your bad habits will inevitably assume a lot more urgency. Methods of altering citizens’ behavior are likely to get a lot tougher than a new series of public service messages.

During the course of this decade we will witness a global battle over the fate of the nascent Bully State. The Bully State will be this decade’s ‘bad cop’ to the Nanny State’s ‘good cop’ of past decades.

The past generation of welfare statism saw the unduly protective Nanny State bleed into every sinew of our daily lives. Sociologist David Marsland explains that, ‘Once you have a big welfare state in place, the excuse for state nannying is infinite in scale’, he says. ‘This … continues the process of reducing self-reliance and handing responsibility for ourselves to external bodies.’

Yet, just when you thought things could not get worse, they did. Two years ago, Oxford University’s Nuffield Council of Bioethics published a seminal report that provided the international public health establishment with the explicit rationale for a dramatic change in the relationship between the citizen and the State.

Did anyone think national health care was really going to be free?

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

24 Mar 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gimme that old time religion department: the Times of India reports that Tekam Das, a Hindu priest in the province of Sind, on Tuesday sacrificed three daughters (all aged under six) and then himself to the goddess Kali.


Technological tour de force: Eric Whitacre‘s Lux Aurumque 6:20 video of virtual choir performance, 185 performers from 12 countries recorded on 243 tracks.

Audition videos (link).

How it was organized (link).

How it was made (link).

Via Kottke.


What American states & cities have the best-equipped male residents? Condomania has the list. New Hampshire and New Orleans win.


Why do I walk like that?

Detail of Megan Jaegerman police graphic discussed by Edward Tufte.

Via Cory Doctorow.

23 Mar 2010

“Highest Value Detainee” Ordered Released

, , , , ,

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Atta

All poor Mohamedou Ould Slahi did was recruit Mohammed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah, the suicide pilots of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and United Airlines Flight 93, for their mission on September 11, 2001.

Mr. Slahi and his defense team allege that he was tortured, i.e., beaten, exposed to uncomfortable temperatures, threatened, frightened by threats against his family, and sexually taunted by female interrogators. A DOD inquiry failed to confirm most of these allegations, but they were obviously credited, and considered to constitute torture, by the officer in charge of prosecution.

Wall Street Journal:

Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and evidence it produced could not lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.

Col. Couch, in a March 31, 2007, Page One story in The Wall Street Journal, cited legal, professional and moral reasons for declining to prosecute.

Mr. Slahi, who was then viewed as a cooperator by interrogators, was granted various privileges at Guantánamo Bay, including his own quarters and garden to tend.

Col. Couch, now in private practice in North Carolina, said Monday’s order “is one of the consequences that the decision-makers should have foreseen when they decided to adopt a policy of cruelty, and the interrogation techniques that flowed from it.”

The same Journal article informs us that he is consequently being freed to resume his former activities.

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” at Guantánamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge in an order issued Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in the coming weeks.

Mr. Robertson held four days of closed hearings in the Slahi case last year. Mr. Slahi testified via secure video link from Guantánamo Bay, said his attorney.

“They were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas,” said the attorney, Nancy Hollander, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Spiegel did a major article in October of 2008 on Slahi.


What can one possibly say about the kind of stupidity that equates misinforming, threatening, taunting, scaring, and even roughing up or inflicting some discomfort on a mass murderer with torture? Or about the legal acumen of jurists who award habeas corpus protection to unlawful belligerents apprehended overseas during time of war?

Do you suppose they can quote “Quos Deus perdere, dementat” [Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad] in Arabic?

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for March 2010.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark