Friday, February 5, 2010
Maybe it's time to revisit the Senate's arcane rules, which allow any individual senator to block any presidential appointee on a whim. With dozens of government posts still unfilled, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama is reportedly throwing a historically unprecedented temper tantrum by placing a hold on at least 70 presidentially nominated jobs. Shelby's office will not talk to reporters about the reported move, which can be undertaken anonymously, but according to Congress Daily the lawmaker has clashed with the White House over a $40 billion military contract whose recipient is threatening to scrap a planned factory in Mobile, Alabama. Holds force the Senate to break a filibuster, which requires 60 votes and can slow Congressional business to a crawl even if the vote succeeds.
This sounds like the best idea since Rush Limbaugh hosted Monday Night Football: A source tells Page Six that Howard Stern is producers’ top choice to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol. Stern’s Sirius XM Radio deal expires in January, and Idol might have the cash to lure him away. However, a second source says that Stern has been sending mixed messages. "We believe this is a ploy to make Sirius pay up and keep him on his huge contract. But if Sirius can't pay him the money he wants, he may negotiate to film Idol on the side."
That means that Amazon is now butting heads with three of the five biggest US publishers. It would seem that something's got to give – quickly.
Up until now, the Amazon model has been to sell many popular e-books at the subsidized price of $9.99. (The publisher is paid $15 and Amazon sells the high-profile books as loss leaders.) But publishers like Macmillan prefer the agency model proposed by Apple during the unveiling of its iPad last week. This would allow publishers to set their own prices, with a 30 percent commission going to the seller.
Prisoners can’t peruse certain books by Pablo Neruda and Andre Gide, both Nobel laureates. “Krik? Krak!” by Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, who last year won a MacArthur “genius” grant, is prohibited behind Lone Star bars. Books of paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists — da Vinci, Picasso, Botticelli, Michelangelo — have been ordered out of state correctional facilities.
And just because a book is a best-seller in the free world doesn’t mean it’s available on the inside. Harold Robbins, Pat Conroy, Hunter S. Thompson, Dave Barry and James Patterson belong to the don’t-read fraternity. Mystery writer Carl Hiaasen does, too, as do Kinky Friedman and Janet Fitch, whose “White Oleander” was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
Author Michael Crichton’s collection of art - including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns - is going on sale. The author died in November 2008 at the age of 66.
Four pieces from Crichton’s collection valued at $32 million — including an iconic Johns Stars and Stripes “Flag” painting that once hung in the writer’s Beverly Hills bedroom — went on display Friday before being auctioned by Christie’s in New York in May.
Rep. Paul D. Ryan says he is determined to make sure the Republican Party is viewed as “the alternative party, not the opposition party.”
Released two days before the unusual back-and-forth session between Obama and the GOP, the bill sponsored by Ryan and five other House members would seek to reduce the deficit and spur economic growth by cutting the tax rate on corporations, shifting future Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to private insurance plans, and both raising the retirement age gradually to 70 and reducing the growth of benefits to make Social Security solvent. Even Democrats have acknowledged that it is one of the few plans offered by a member of either party that would lower the long-term budget deficit.
Forbes' top 10 sports teams in brand value
No. 1 Manchester United (English Premier League)
Brand value of $270 million
No. 2 New York Yankees (MLB)
Brand value of $266 million
No. 3 Real Madrid (Spanish La Liga)
Brand Value: $245 million
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Brand Value: $208 million
No. 5 Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga)
Brand Value: $200 million
No. 6 Arsenal (English Premier League)
No. 7 AC Milan (Italian Serie A)
No. 8 Barcelona (Spanish La Liga)
No. 9 New York Mets (MLB)
No. 10 Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Shackleton (second left) pictured with other members of his team in 1908
Five crates of whisky and brandy belonging to Sir Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer, have been recovered after being buried under the Antarctic ice for over 100 years.
The spirits, supplied by the Scottish distillers Whyte and Mackay, were excavated from underneath Shackleton's Antarctic hut
And so an end so long delayed has come to pass at last: after 48 years of endless fire, $42 million in federal relocation funding and 500 buildings razed, Centralia PA is down to just 5 houses and a dozen residents
Liberals wouldn't have to be so condescending if people weren't so damned stupid: "Their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate"
Best Director - 1968
Who Won: Carol Reed for Oliver!
Who Should've Won: Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey
For CNN if you believe in the Constitution and Fiscal Restraint you are “Far Right” but believing in Socialism is not news worth.
The Gallup Poll finds that 53% of Democrats and 61% of liberals have a "positive image of socialism." That could explain a lot about the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the Tea Party is meeting in Nashville. CNN provides a primer on the Tea Partiers, and twice describes them as "far right."
So: socialism is mainstream, but fiscal sanity and constitutionalism are "far right."
This being a democracy, don’t the Democrats see that clinging to this agenda will march them over a cliff? Don’t they understand Massachusetts?
Well, they understand it through a prism of two cherished axioms: (1) The people are stupid, and (2) Republicans are bad. Result? The dim, led by the malicious, vote incorrectly.
The IPCC's beleaguered climate report faces the prospect of still more errors, as Dutch authorities point out factual inaccuracies about the Netherlands.
Dutch environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart has asked the U.N.'s climate change panel to rethink its assertion that more than half of the Netherlands is below seal level. Dutch authorities explain that, in fact, only 26 percent of the country is below sea level.
Ask anyone reasonably well versed in American history to name our most populist-minded president, and you'll likely hear the name of Andrew Jackson. He was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants, raised on the frontier, and he ran the first democratic (and Democratic) campaign. A gang of Jackson's roughneck supporters, so the legend goes, rushed to the White House after his inauguration and tore the place apart.
But Jackson was not a "spread the wealth" populist. On the contrary, he opposed the American System of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay to have the government build roads and canals and other public works. He killed the central bank and paid off the national debt.
Jackson argued that government interference in the economy would inevitably favor the well-entrenched and well-connected. It would take money away from the little people and give it to the elites.
That view seems to be shared today in what I have called the Jacksonian belt, the broad swath of America settled by the Scots-Irish from the Appalachian chains in Virginia southwest to Texas. The Obama administration argues that Democratic big government and health-care programs will help the little guys. Jacksonians today, as in the 1830s, don't agree.
. . .Why has the politics of economic redistribution had such limited success in America? One reason is that Americans, unlike Western Europeans, tend to believe that there is a connection between effort and reward and that people can work their way up economically. If people do something to earn their benefits, like paying Social Security taxes, that's fine. But giving money to those who have not in some way earned it is a no-no. Moreover, like Andrew Jackson, most Americans suspect that some of the income that is redistributed will end up in the hands not of the worthy but of the well-connected.
CLARENCE THOMAS PROMOTES DIVERSITY:
He says he thinks it’s important to have diversity, and his idea is to concentrate on his circuit, the 11th Circuit. So he’ll look for law students who are near the top of the class in schools in that circuit (which includes Florida).
He’s explicitly scornful of the bloggers who refer to the students at the less highly ranked law schools as “TTT” or “third tier trash.”
Plus: “And for law clerks he chooses ‘the kids I like,’ with “a preference for non-Ivy League law clerks, ‘because “I’m not part of this new or faux nobility.’”
REVISED: 8.4M JOBS LOST IN RECESSION
Economy Sheds 20,000 Jobs But Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.7 Percent.
Okay, not so much of a miracle: “A sharp increase in the number of people giving up looking for work helped to depress the jobless rate. The number of ‘discouraged job seekers’ rose to 1.1 million in January from 734,000 a year ago.”
Potential Evolutionary Role for Same-Sex Attraction
ScienceDaily (Feb. 4, 2010) — Male homosexuality doesn't make complete sense from an evolutionary point of view. It appears that the trait is heritable, but because homosexual men are much less likely to produce offspring than heterosexual men, shouldn't the genes for this trait have been extinguished long ago? What value could this sexual orientation have, that it has persisted for eons even without any discernible reproductive advantage?
One possible explanation is what evolutionary psychologists call the "kin selection hypothesis." What that means is that homosexuality may convey an indirect benefit by enhancing the survival prospects of close relatives. Specifically, the theory holds that homosexual men might enhance their own genetic prospects by being "helpers in the nest." By acting altruistically toward nieces and nephews, homosexual men would perpetuate the family genes, including some of their own
WSJ: Families With $45k AGI Face 41% Marginal Tax Rate Under ObamaCare
Wall Street Journal op-ed, Another Obama Tax Hike: The Senate Health-Care Bill Would Raise Effective Marginal Tax Rates on Lower and Middle-Income Singles and Families up to 41%, by Douglas Holtz-Eakin (Former Director, Congressional Budget Office; Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations) & Alex Brill (American Enerprise Institute):
[The Senate health care bill raises] to shocking levels the effective marginal tax rates (EMTR) on lower and middle-income singles and families--with the government taking up to 41% of each additional dollar. ...
The scientific and pseudoscientific worlds are buzzing over that mysterious, x-shaped object zooming through space at 11,000 mph. But it's just one of several recent UFOs that caught our attention. Vote on which is most likely piloted by aliens.
Your first contender is, of course Object X, pictured above and below in closeup.
Last month, there was the "green jellyfish" light over Norway.
From Paul on a climber he meet in Argentina where they were discussing the Canadian Health care system. (Yes it is a small world)
btw, one of the climbers I met on Aconcagua last month was a Canadian businessman -- operates a factory in Ontario with 120 employees. Very conservative. Sounded like Limbaugh / Beck / O'Reilly on every issue except healthcare. Insisted he had never run into a Canadian who was unhappy with their system. I said that's impossible; he replied "believe what you will, I'm just telling you the truth."
Analysts are expecting the Labor Department to add another 800,000 jobs to the total lost during the recession
BAD NEWS FOR THE IPCC: India has established its own body to monitor the effects of global warming because it “cannot rely” on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the group headed by its own Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr R K Pachauri.