Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Insane Video of an Airplane Crash in Afghanistan

Friday, April 26, 2013

How Stupid Have Public Schools Become? We Got a Call from the Principal Because of My Son's "Super Jew" T-shirt

It's just amazing.  A couple of days ago, my 8-year old son wore the shirt below to his public elementary school:

Basically a somewhat funny novelty shirt that also helps my son celebrate his cultural heritage.  It doesn't denigrate non-Jews or anything, it's just a positive and slightly humorous shirt.  That day though, we got a call from a very uptight principal who was all verklempt over this shirt saying Adam couldn't wear it anymoer.  "Where did he get this shirt?" he asked.  Uhhh, Tel Aviv?  In what twisted universe does that even matter anyway?  He's a Jewish kid wearing a Super Jew shirt.  What is the big deal?  I just looked up the school dress code and nowhere does it mention you can't wear a shirt like this.  I thought maybe there was something against religious symbols or something (though it's a stretch to call anything there that) but this is the school that made him paint Easter eggs in Kindergarten.  Nothing.  It doesn't promote anything illegal or denigrate others, nor is it obscene.

In fact, what the school is doing is COMPLETELY unconstitutional.  In the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case, the Supreme Court ruled that a public school did not have the right to limit a student’s right to free speech unless it was necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others.  Future cases have provided the exceptions where the school does have a right to limit speech, e.g. in the Morse v. Frederick “Bong Hits for Jesus” case where the court ruled that students don’t have the right to promote illegal drug use. 

Maybe if these people made school feel less like a prison, kids would actually enjoy them more.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Soon, if your business sells on eBay, you could face audits from 46 different states

There seems to be a good chance that the Marketplace Fairness Act (aka, we're taxing online purchasers act) is going to pass and with it any business with more than $1 million in online sales will have to collect and pay sales taxes.  Besides the fact that this will automatically make all online purchases more expensive, thereby hurting online sales, this also will require businesses, even relatively small ones to comply with out of state tax regulations.  And if they don't, your business based in Oakland, CA may have to answer to the Oklahoma tax authorities.  Boy, won't that be fun?  Leave it to government to try to wreck a good thing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Senator Lindsey Graham Doesn't Seem to Care About the Constitution

Lindsey Graham, who along with John McCain is turning into one of my least favorite Republicans, wants Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be treated as an "enemy combatant", which basically means that we ignore any constitutional protections that he may have.  Really?  The whole idea of our Bill of Rights is to not make governmental decisions related to people's rights arbitrary, but to make sure that it applies to all.  And it's not like this guy invaded this country with guns blazing.  We let him in and gave him permanent resident status.  Should he be tried for murder and treason?  Sure.  Should he be executed if found guilty?  You bet.  But just throwing him into a room and not letting him come out before we say so?  That's just not America.  But Lindsey Graham doesn't really care.  His principles are few and he really just does what is expedient at the time.

Blaming the Tea Party for the Boston Marathon Bombing Never Made Sense

I find it funny that the knee jerk reaction of media outlets like CNN, MSNBC and NPR  was that the Boston Marathon bombing was the work of the Tea Party or "right wing extremists".  As if Tea Partiers are more likely than others to go crazy and start killing innocent people.  The theory really made no sense.  Why would someone who believed in the constitution and favored limited government bomb the Boston Marathon?  How is it representative of government largesse?  If the bombing had been of a Federal Building or an IRS or Welfare office, okay, I would have suspected a right winger as well.  But the target was full of 100% innocent people who have zero to do with what Tea Partiers are angry about.  Plus, as the effective birthplace of the American Revolution (and the original Tea Party), it really doesn't make sense for it to be a target.

It seemed to me to make a lot more sense for this to be the work of radical Islamists.  The Boston Marathon is an internationally recognized race and an attack on it would make headlines all across the globe.  Also, the pressure cooker bomb used was very similar to ones used in places like Pakistan for years.  And finally, radical Islamists have had a long history of targeting completely innocent civilians, even children because they feel justified in doing so.      Teens in line for a night club, families going out for pizza and people commuting to work have been targets in the past.  

Seriously, I think the main stream media is suffering from Teapartiphobia and it is really clouding their judgement.

Video: The Boston Marathon Bombers' Uncle Ruslan

I was on my way to lunch when I saw this on our TV in our reception area. I really have to say I am a fan of Uncle Ruslan. He is clearly a hardworking, proud immigrant who loves America (as he put it, it's where anyone can go to be treated like a human being) and is aghast at the actions of his nephews. I have to say that for their sake the police get a hold of them before their uncle does:


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is a Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Blaming the Jews for the Boston Marathon Massacre?

Essam El-Erian, the Vice Chair of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt seems to view the Boston Marathon bombings as being part of some worldwide conspiracy.  I wonder who he could possibly think is behind that? No, I'm not actually wondering:

The criminal acts in Boston, which killed three and wounded 244, comes in the context of reproducing an old case that will not return and not produce negative effects on Islam and Muslims.

Our sympathy with the families of the victims, and the American people do not stop us from reading into the grave incident.

This series of events began with the sending of French battalions to Mali in a war against organisations that are said to belong to Al-Qaeda.

Bombings intensified in Syria in a suspicious manner that deviated from the path of the great Syrian revolution, and smear campaigns began.


A question that forces itself: Who disturbed democratic transformations, despite the difficult transition from despotism, corruption, poverty, hatred, and intolerance to freedom, justice tolerance, development, human dignity, and social justice?

Who planted Islamophobia through research, the press, and the media?

Who funded the violence?

The march of the Arab peoples will continue, and the will of right, justice, and dignity will triumph, and Syria will triumph to democratic transition movements with the permission of the victorious One God Almighty, who cannot be rendered incapable.

Due to the Recent Gold Crash, the Dollar Has Now Only Lost 97.44% of It's Value Since 1970

Here is a chart of the value of a dollar in terms of gold, with 1970=100:

Now, I am not saying gold is necessarily cheap here (I don't really know how you would value gold) or that you should buy.  Gold had been overbought for a while and there are funds that are still up to their necks in the stuff that might have to sell (like John Paulson's funds) so there could be some downside.  I just think there has been a bit too much "goldenfreude" and people should have some perspective.

In Response to the Boston Marathon Bombing, Rep. Peter King Wants Cameras Everywhere?

Here is what Rep. Peter King said on MSNBC about installing cameras everywhere in cities to combat terrorism:

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC: Congressman briefly, do you think that this will lead to more cameras? I know it's controversial, there are privacy issues. Boston does have a lot of cameras. European cities, led by London, have the most. Are Americans going to have to get used to more surveillance on a daily basis?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY): I think we do because I think privacy involves being in a private location. Being out in the street is not an expectation of privacy. Anyone can look at you, can see you, can watch what you're doing. A camera just makes it more sophisticated, but it's no different from your neighbor looking out the window at you or a police officer looking at you walking down the street.

So I do think we need more cameras. We have to stay ahead of the terrorists and I do know in New York, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is based on cameras, the outstanding work that results from that. So yes, I do favor more cameras. They're a great law enforcement method and device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.
I hope also that members of Congress, both parties, including my own, will realize that the war against terror is not over. And it's foolhardy to be making cuts in Homeland Security, especially to cities, whose police departments need this to train and to be ready to take on terrorism.

This is just another knee jerk reaction from people who think more government intrusion is the answer to every tragedy.  How would cameras have actually stopped the Boston Marathon bombing?  "That guy seems to be putting something bulky down, let's get SWAT there right now."  Dream on.  The same people who will be manning the camera stations (assuming we have anyone manning them) will be the same DMV rejects that regularly molest us at airports.  They are more interested in making sure you don't bring water and shampoo on the plane or getting in a good old-fashioned grope than actually stopping terrorists.    Plus you know that with local budgets constantly strained due to burgeoning pension obligations, these cameras are much more likely to be used to issue tickets for such things as spitting your gum out or smoking a cigarette within 250 feet of a school.  You really think someone like Mike Bloomberg won't?  These cameras will simply make our lives incrementally more miserable while making us no safer.  Mark my words.  

Let's hope cooler heads prevail.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New York State Confiscates Guns Because Owner Once was on Anxiety Medication

This is just an amazingly scary story.  A 34 year old college librarian had his gun permit revoked and his guns confiscated by New York State police because he had once been on anti-anxiety medication.  This is all due to the passage of the SAFE Act in that state which allows for an almost Orwellian intrusion into your personal information in order to decide whether you are worthy of your constitutional right to bear arms or not.  This is so wrong on so many levels, but here are a few:

1.  His permit was revoked and his guns were confiscated without any due process.  The State Police simply sent him a letter and that was it.  No hearing, no nothing.  They made a bureaucratic decision and that was it.  Guns aren't cheap, so we are talking about likely thousands of dollars worth or property simply seized.  Also, gun permits also cost money, and I'm sure the state did not refund him his permit fee either.

2.  All of this was due to the government having access to personal medical records.  Why does the state have access to these anyway?  What ever happened to Doctor-Patient confidentiality?  Or just the inherent Right to Privacy?  It seems that if the Right to Privacy can be used as a reason why the state cannot ban all abortion, then it certainly can be used to keep the government out of personal medical records, especially without any sort of probable cause.

3.  Even if there was due process in this case, I'm not sure I like it any better.  So some law is made retroactive so that things you already did are made illegal.  Does it really help if you are allowed to have a hearing?  What if they make a law saying all houses need to be at least 15 feet apart and yours is 10 feet from your neighbor. Will a hearing really help?  You're still screwed.

4.  Fighting these kinds of bureaucratic decisions is very expensive.  May be the 1% has thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on lawyers to defend their rights, but what about the rest of us?  Normal people are just going to be steamrolled here, due process or not.  So they have a hearing, what if they can't afford competent legal help?

In this particular case, the State Police said they "had the wrong man" in the end.  Was it the wrong man who took anti-anxiety medication?  Who is going to compensate him for all of this harassment and the error?  Nothing ever seems to happen to these bureaucrats when they make an amazingly stupid and costly error.  Nobody loses their jobs.  Nobody even gets a pay cut.  And the victim doesn't get reimbursed.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Awesome Letter from a Student to the Schools that Rejected Her

A pretty funny, well-written and true letter that was printed by the Wall Street Journal by a high school senior who was rejected by the top colleges despite a 4.5 GPA and a 2120 SAT.  You have to wonder how many losers with crappy grades got accepted in her stead because they helped admissions officers check some boxes:

Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.

What could I have done differently over the past years?

For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it. "Diversity!" I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would've been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage.

I also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people's pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you're using someone else's misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you're golden.

I didn't realize that North Korea has a "few dozen" nuclear weapons

Most people have been pretty dismissive of the North Korean threats and there is a good chance that it is all just the usual periodic bluster that we get from that weird Stalinist country just north of where I get my LCD's made.  But what if that weird fat dictator with the horrible haircut is actually really crazy?  For decades, North Korean propaganda has been telling that family how incredibly impressive and wonderful they are.  Kim Il Sung probably knew the reality as he was defeated in the Korean War and probably Kim Jong Il knew it as well.  But what about "Un".  Could he be so completely cuckoo for cocoa puffs that he actually believes all the stuff he has heard since he was a kid?  Maybe he is sick of not getting the "respect" internationally he feels he deserves.  If North Korea didn't have nukes, it probably wouldn't be a big deal.  But not only do they have nuclear capability, but according to this NBC report they have dozens of warheads capable of being put on ballistic missiles.  Imagine what that could do to the people of South Korea and Japan?  Millions could perish and then we would constantly hear about how everyone kept dismissing the warning signs, warning signs that have been here for decades.  Clinton was even preparing a pre-emptive strike in 1994 against their nuclear facility.  Anyway, here is the story of their nuclear stockpile from NBC:

According to a recent analysis, North Korea has a weapon stockpile that could threaten both Japan and South Korea and, in longer term, the United States. Some of the weapons have already been deployed, say U.S. officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity. Moreover, the North has begun research into more advanced and dangerous weapons, possibly even thermonuclear weapons, they say.

At the high end of the stockpile range, U.S. officials and other researchers said North Korea may already have up to "a few dozen" nuclear weapons that could be fitted atop its vast fleet of ballistic missiles. Those missiles are limited to an intermediate range, capable of hitting targets in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere in the northern Pacific, including U.S. military bases as far south as Guam, the officials believe.


While some analysts suggested that the North planned its December rocket launch to gain attention ahead of the presidential election in South Korea , some in the U.S. non-proliferation community think otherwise. They expect that once the North feels comfortable with its ICBM technology, it will deploy the missiles.  They point to the Musudan intermediate range missile which was tested in middle of the last decade, then deployed — presumably with nuclear warheads — and aimed at Japan.

Once the North has confidence in the long-range missile based on the space rocket, U.S. officials believe they will deploy it as well, making North Korea the third nation to have nuclear weapons targeted at the United States, after Russia and China.

Many in the Obama administration see that as a more frightening prospect than Iran gaining nuclear weapons, believing that Tehran is a rational actor that will serve its own national interest and preserve the regime, compared to successive generations of North Korean leaders who have shown that they are unpredictable and erratic.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The IMF is Twisting the Knife in Cyprus

As if stealing from retirees, supermarket owners and others to the tune of 60%+ wasn't enough, the IMF is now demanding a 2% of GDP increase in taxes:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is contributing 1bn euros, says they are "challenging" and will require "great efforts" from its population.

They will mean a doubling of taxes on interest income to 30% and a rise in corporation tax from 10% to 12.5%.

The plan, designed to stabilise the banking system and government finances, was agreed in principle last week.


The country is already planning to introduce austerity measures equivalent to 5% of GDP between 2013-15 through tax rises and spending cuts, but Ms Lagarde said further measures were needed.

She said the corporation tax increase and raising of the tax on interest rates to 30% would help bring in another 2% of GDP.

Can anyone really legitimately argue that people who may have just given up 60% of their net worth are under-taxed?  And as we have seen in Greece, increased taxation doesn't necessarily lead to an increase in taxes collected, not when your economy is in freefall.  How much do you think the corporate tax increase is really going to collect when people have stopped shopping because they have no money?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Isaac Newton's Other Lesson about Gravity

(h/t Business Insider)

David Stockman on Bloomberg Radio

He says there is no way for the Fed to easily unwind it's balance sheet and calls Paul Ryan's budget a disgrace (which I certainly can't argue with):

Abortionist Would Use Scissors to Cut the Spines of Living, Breathing Babies in Philadelphia

I haven't been paying attention to this case of an abortionist in Philadelphia.  Which is probably just as well as I think I want to puke:

A Pennsylvania doctor is accused of running a "house of horrors" in which he performed abortions past the 24-week limit allowed by law -- even allegedly as late as eight months into pregnancy.

He used scissors, authorities say, to sever the spinal cords of newborns who emerged from their mothers still alive.

Now Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is about to stand trial. He has pleaded not guilty. If he's convicted, prosecutors want him put to death.

"A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said.

A grand jury investigation determined that health and licensing officials had received repeated reports about Gosnell's practices for two decades, but had taken no action, Williams said.


Gosnell faces eight counts of murder: for the deaths of seven babies, and in the case of a 41-year-old woman who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion.

The babies were born alive in the sixth, seventh and eighth months of pregnancy, but their spinal cords were severed with scissors, Williams said.


"The doctor gained a reputation. People far and wide knew that he performed abortions at any time," Williams said.


When authorities searched Gosnell's office, they found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building.

Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf. Furniture and equipment was blood-stained, dusty and broken.
"My grasp of the English language doesn't really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was -- rotting bodies, fetal remains, the smell of urine throughout, blood-stained," Williams said.

Williams described one of the alleged infant deaths.

"The baby had been born and was on a cold steel table and murdered by using -- there's no medical basis for snipping or taking scissors and putting them into the neck and cutting, severing the spinal cord. It's just homicide. It's just murder," Williams told CNN.

The health and licensing officials who ignored the reports from this clinic should really be charged as well and go to jail for a long time.  There is no right to murder babies.  Ever.

Monday, April 1, 2013

30 Minute David Stockman Interview on America's Problems and Crony Capitalism

I might not agree with his policy prescriptions but he certainly diagnoses the problem well enough.  This is well worth watching: