Thursday, April 30, 2009

Donna says her PNV is AOK, point well taken

Rep. Rowland says too much time is used during the session for consent calendars and personal orders. I agree.

“While I generally agree with the congratulatory text of resolutions, I do not agree that taxpayer dollars should be used for these items,” she said. “ ‘present not voting’ shows my dissatisfaction with the time and resources used.”

Rowland’s announcement comes on the heels of recent media reports from the Associated Press that the legislature has spent one out of every five minutes on the floor of the Tennessee House this year honoring and congratulating constituents or greeting visitors. In other words, out of about 37 hours spent in session on the House floor, nearly 8 hours were devoted to “personal orders,” in which House members formally present congratulatory and memorializing resolutions.

“This is also a great cost to the taxpayers, because for every day we are in Nashville, in session, we are given a per diem, and other administrative costs accrue as well,” pointed out Representative Rowland. “I was elected to the State House of Representatives to conduct state business as it relates to my constituents: actions that have a positive effect on our future, that correct injustices, etc. and that’s what I intend to do,” she concluded.

Govt Heathcare in Australia, Mice gnawing on patients

A BEDRIDDEN war veteran was found on Anzac Day with bloody ears, hands, face and neck after being "severely chewed" by swarming mice at a southwest Queensland nursing home.

Opposition MP Ray Hopper said Queensland Health had been slow to respond to a mice plague at the Dalby Hospital, which includes a nursing home, leading to the attack on the 89-year-old man.


He said it was normal to see an increase in mice in Dalby and the Darling Downs at the onset of winter, and the problem was handled with chemical sprays

"But the bureaucrats said no sprays this year because it uses agricultural chemicals, and that's not allowed to happen at a health facility,'' he said.

Kenyan Women to go on Sex Strike to Stop Bickering

The group will also pay prostitutes not to work.

The organisation's chairman, Rukia Subow, said that she hopes that the boycott will put pressure on men to persuade politicians and their supporters to speed up efforts to break the deadlock.

"We have looked at all issues which can bring people to talk and we have seen that sex is the answer," said Mrs Subow. "It does not know tribe, it does not have a [political] party and it happens in the lowest households."

Mass Senate uses Flu scare to STOMP on Freedom

The new Senate version would allow the public health commissioner — in a public health emergency — to close or evacuate buildings, enter private property for investigations, and quarantine individuals.

The measure also requires a registry for volunteers that would be activated in an emergency and establishes fines of up to $1,000 for not complying with local public health orders.

Sen. Richard Moore, chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, says the swine flu outbreak provides added impetus to pass the measure.

Nominee for cutesiest Government Blog Name


Barney Frank in 2005, Housing Bubble wont happen

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Memphis: 8 employees indicted in County Clerk’s Office probe

Authorities uncovered what they describe is "a pervasive culture of political and familial entitlement" that included government employees accepting cash tips and gift cards while dishing out favors when registering motor vehicles.

Seattle Blogger awarded $225k over open records case

SEATTLE — King County has agreed to pay conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky $225,000 to settle a public-records lawsuit he brought over the county’s delay in releasing documents about the 2004 governor’s election.

Sharkansky filed his request in December 2004, seeking a list of everyone who voted in the county in the election that year, but the county didn’t satisfy the request until more than two years later.

He said the documents that were ultimately provided revealed that elections officials in King County counted hundreds of ineligible ballots — including double votes and votes from unregistered or improperly registered voters. That could have changed the outcome of the razor-thin race between Democrat Chris Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, he said. Gregoire won by 133 votes following two recounts and a trial in Chelan County Superior Court.

The documents were not produced during the trial, and therefore “the trial never explained this mystery of why there were more votes than voters,” Sharkansky said April 24.

Is (constructive) conversation moving offline?


One thing I have been noticing lately: a good post on this blog will receive two to three comments. But (and that’s new) I will get between five to ten emails following up on what I wrote. Is good conversation moving away from public viewing? So it seems!

Harassment, ignorance, anonymity, spam, all these have taken their toll on online discussionSome bloggers even stopped writing because of it. We don’t need to reach extremes to make these weight on the general attitude. An opinion expressed online exposes us to more violent answers than in real life. It is much easier to slap me while seating on a desk on the other side of the planet - separated from my 100 kilos by a screen and a few well guarded borders ;) - than to speak your mind in person. This disintermediation makes it more easy to go beyond the limits, as to feel like words have less consequences than they really do.

And despite what we have been hearing, every piece of information created on the web does not necessarily call for additions or follow ups. I asked a couple of times “can I republish your email online to make the blog’s conversation more complete”, only to get a “not really, it was not meant to start a discussion with anybody else than you”. Totally understandable. Why would we always want our contributions to be exposed and amended by the world? We take it for granted now, like it is a virtue to allow discussion, but why not consider the opposite - contributions that their author wants to be in their final form - also acceptable?

Automatic Gas Tax Hikes approved in TN House


A House subcommittee has quietly approved legislation that would provide for automatic increases in Tennessee's gasoline tax in the future, based on the consumer price index.

The so-called "indexing" plan was introduced Tuesday as an amendment rewriting HB1321 in the House Rural Roads Subcommittee.

As introduced, the bill by Rep. Bill Harmon, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, calls for abolishing a Sandhill Crane specialty license plate.

The rewritten amendment adopted by the committee, which then approved the bill on voice vote, would set up a new system to adjust Tennessee gasoline taxes annually based on the consumer price index.

Good Flu News Twitter Account


  1. 2 brothers in Lowell, Massachusetts now confirmed -- 1st cases in New England:
  2. First probable case of swine flu in Minnesota: #swineflu
  3. 10 'probable' cases in South Carolina:
  4. First US death was a Mexican child:
  5. NYTimes interviews suspected index case in La Gloria, Mexico #swineflu
  6. Germany confirms three cases #swineflu
  7. Finland, first suspected swine flu case #swineflu

NOOOOOO....a Snuggie successor


Very Nice Zillow Real Estate iPhone app using GPS


Flu Masks with a Flair from Japanese Designer


Calif Govt Pensions OUT of Control

See database HERE of all pensions over $100,000. HT: Jack Dean

Nice Directory of Web 2.0 applications


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama: "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket"

"under a system of cap and trade."

This is the first time I have seen this clip...this man knows he will destroy the US economy. This was from a January 2008 interview.

Gratuitous Cuteness: Tan Hong Ming professes his love

HT: BuzzFeed

High Taxes=Low Growth, Low Taxes=High Growth


Arlington, Va. – U.S. metropolitan areas with lower taxes exhibit higher employment growth, faster population growth, and greater increases in real personal income than areas with a higher tax burden, concludes a new study released today by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), an Arlington, Va.-based policy research group. The study, “Higher Taxes, Less Growth,” found that areas with higher taxes had lower employment growth, smaller personal income gains and slower growth of population.

Google Map of Flu cases: Real Time Investigations



Michael Caine has had enough of British taxes

His name, as they say, is Michael Caine. And he's not a happy bunny. The 76-year-old film star has revealed in colourful terms that he has had it, and will leave Britain if taxes get any higher.

"The Government has taken tax up to 50 per cent, and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America," he said at the weekend. "We've got 3.5 million layabouts on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it up."

This ought to be interesting, a Union Owned Car Co

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- The United Auto Workers union’s retiree health-care fund will own 55 percent of Chrysler LLC in exchange for cutting in half the automaker’s $10.6 billion cash obligation to the trust, people familiar with the matter said.

Under the terms of the contract, the trust would get representation on the company’s board of directors, said two people briefed on the deal, who asked not to be named because the matter is private.

How much is Barack going to CUT from the Budget?

HT: Flashpoint

WaPo/ABC Poll: More people ID as Independents

Independents: 38%
Democrats: 35%
Republicans: 21%, Twitter based Real Time Flu Tracker


and HERE is the Link for Nashville, unfortunately, the site is not tracking now (sigh).

NO to Mass Transit, YES to Roads

A local group that spent a year studying Charlotte's transportation needs threw cold water Monday on the idea of another half-cent sales tax for mass transit, saying any tax increase should be dedicated to roads instead.

The Charlotte Area Transit System is trying to build two expensive train lines in the next two or three years – an extension to the Lynx Blue Line and a commuter train to the Lake Norman area. But it's unlikely that CATS will have enough money to simultaneously build both projects – totaling nearly $1.5 billion.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Flickr Flu pics


Obama lied, documents hide

Obama did, in fact, LIE. This was an empty bit of campaign rhetoric which he never intended to honor.

President Obama promised on the campaign trail that he would have the most transparent administration in history. As part of this commitment, he said that the public would have five days to look online and find out what was in the bills that came to his desk before he signed them. It was his first broken promise, and it's the promise that keeps on breaking. He has now signed 11 bills into law and gone, at best, 1 for 11 on his five-day posting promise. The Obama administration should deliver on the Web-enabled transparency he promised and post bills for five days before signing.

To the thrill of technology and transparency advocates, candidate Obama promised sunlight before signing: "As president," his campaign website said, "Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

How to make a baby

Zach Wamp wants to spend 6 times more than Obama

on the high speed rail boondoggle. Zach Wamp personifies the problem with the Republican Party for many teapartiers.  Zach may well be sincere about this particular project but his unwillingness to limit spending for his own pet projects pretty much destroys his credibility and effectiveness on limiting growth in the total federal budget. The deficit this year will be almost $2 trillion and yet Zach Wamp is willing to vote for 6 times more than Obama proposed on this project alone.

We will NEVER EVER control federal spending with Republicans like Zach Wamp. 

Most Republicans say the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package went too far. But GOP lawmakers backing a bullet train between Atlanta and Chattanooga said the White House didn’t go far enough in its high-speed rail initiative in the stimulus plan.

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Chattanooga, suggested that the high-speed rail initiative should have included $50 billion, rather than $8 billion, to really encourage the next generation of trains.

“We need to throw the ball deep,” Rep. Wamp said.

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, chairman of the Georgia Senate Transportation Committee, said he was “disappointed” in the White House plan and called the initiative “incomplete.”

A proposed route between Atlanta and Chattanooga considered for a magnetic levitation train was not included in the Obama administration plans.

Taxpayers make hard decisions while Govts Splurge

These recession-era reevaluations are all the more striking because the public's luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries had been moving in the other direction for the previous decade. For example, the share of adults who consider a microwave a necessity was just 32% in 1996. By 2006, it had shot up to 68%. But it has now retreated to 47%. Similarly, just 52% of the public in the latest poll say a television set is a necessity -- down 12 percentage points from 2006 and the smallest share to call a TV a necessity since this question was first asked more than 35 years ago. - Real time Tweet viewer/filter

HERE is the stream of Swine Flu Tweets for example.

Twitter, filter, viewer, display.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: Stop the Pirate Raid on Wealth

So, I beg readers not to confuse overpaid bankers with the rest of Britain's entrepreneurs.

The next few years are going to be horrendous in the UK. The last thing we need is a Somali pirate-style raid on the few wealth creators who still dare to navigate Britain's gale-force waters.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

AT LAST!! A Government designed GREEN Clock

Number of Federal Subsidy Programs Tops 1,800


By 2008, there were 1,804 different subsidy programs in the federal budget. Hundreds of programs were added this decade—ranging from a $62 billion prescription drug plan to a $1 million anti-drug education grant—and the recent stimulus bill added even more. We are in the midst of the largest federal gold rush since the 1960s.

Done Deal: Dems don't need Repubs to pass Govt Healthcare

It's been in the works for a while and now, according to senior Captiol Hill staffers, it's a done deal: The final budget resolution will include a "reconciliation instruction" for health care. That means the Democrats can pass health care reform with just fifty votes, instead of the sixty it takes to break a filibuster.

The deal was hatched late afternoon and last night, in a five-hour negotiating session at the office of Senate Majoriy Leader Harry Reid. A trio of White House officials were there: Rahm Emanuel, Peter Orszag, and Phil Schiliro. Also present, along with Reid, were House Budget Chairman John Spratt and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad.

The reonciliation instruction specifies a date. That date, according to one congressional staffer, is October 15. (The original House reconciliation instruction had a late September deadline.)

In other words, the House and Senate each have until that day to pass health care legislation.

If they haven't, then both houses will consider health care under the reconciliation process, which is relevant primarily for the way it affects the Senate. There will be a limit on the time of debate. Republicans won't be able to filibuster it.

Local TeaParty Stops Tax Hike


The tenor of the meeting actually began on the sidewalk outside, where a gathering of homeowners and proprietors of small businesses waved signs as they waited, before the meeting, for council members to arrive at City Hall. The signs bore slogans that included, “No Supplemental Tax Bill,” and “We Follow Our Budget.”

A sign-toting Jeanne Budnick, proprietor of Pepin Lumber, a family-owned business for generations, said the city should be forced to live within the constraints that everyday property owners and merchants deal with. In difficult economic times like these, Budnick said, another bill for the owners of businesses and homes will only make things worse for people struggling with unemployment, cuts in hours and higher health care costs.

“We all know these are difficult times,” Budnick said . “We're making cuts left and right. I think it's time the city lived within its means. We have to live within our means and this supplemental tax bill is the easy way out. It's one more thing to make people lose their homes and businesses.”

What a "great" idea, micromanaging our PET behavior

through the tax code. Actor Robert Davi says there should be a tax exemption for pets. How deliciously well intentioned and big heartedly screwy and stupid it is. Lets also have a tax deduction for smiling...and dancing...

In 2008, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association estimated that Americans spent more than $41 billion on their pets. Being allowed to use these expenses as deductions would positively affect the tax burden on a majority of American households. I am pleased to report that Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, is taking the lead on this, working closely with us to write legislation.

Using the tax code to encourage positive behavior is a common practice. About 500,000 Americans are able to receive a tax credit for up to $3,150 for owning gas-saving hybrid cars. Many cities and states also reward hybrid-vehicle owners with access to HOV lanes and additional tax breaks. Why not allow a tax exemption for pets that would reward Americans for behavior they already are following to improve their health and well-being?

Every city in America spends tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on programs for abandoned animals. Like many government-funded programs, they overspend and underperform. By contrast, a tax exemption for pets would add to the education and rescue efforts and bring an added incentive to responsible prospective pet owners.

A Big Deal for Electric Car Development? Probably

They certified that EEStor's patented and patent pending Composition Modified Barium-Titanate Powders have met and/or exceeded a relative permittivity of 22,500. This is a high relative permittivity which is good for EEStor's supercapacitors. EEStor's supercapacitors could hold more charge than a battery but have the quick discharge and recharge performance of capacitors.

The Geniuses at Medicare define "Never" events

Gotta luv government medicine bureaucrats. After years and years of study they have come up with a list of "events" that should "never" occur and for which taxpayers should not have to shell out any bucks. This is VERY reassuring.

Surgery on wrong body part
Surgery on wrong patient
Wrong surgery on a patient
Foreign object left in patient after surgery
Post-operative death in normal health patient
Implantation of wrong egg

ARK GOP wants to use Stimulus for Tax Rebate

JEFFERSON CITY — Facing pressure from his caucus, House Speaker Ron Richard says the Republican-controlled chamber is abandoning plans to spend hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars on pet projects for members and lobbyists.

Instead, the GOP caucus wants to disburse $1 billion of the state's $2.2 billion in flexible stimulus dollars in the form of a tax rebate, Richard said.

"Our caucus is not willing to spend all of that money," Richard told reporters this morning.

House Budget Chairman Allen Icet said Republicans are now proposing temporarily lowering the income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent for two years.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time for a Tea Party in Jamaica, maan

Jamaican army deployed ahead of tax increase

KINGSTON, April 23 (Reuters) - Jamaica's government put police and the army on alert to prevent violent demonstrations as it prepared to announce tax increases on gasoline, cigarettes and other consumer items on Thursday.

Police and soldiers were deployed at what the government called "strategic" locations across the Caribbean island to quell any violent protests. Finance and Planning Minister Audley Shaw was expected to announce the tax increases during a budget debate later on Thursday.

Nice People Finder/Search web site

West TN Tea Party 04-24-09, Congrats to Mike Slater

Quick pan of the crowd from yesterday. Great event. HERE are photos from the Jackson Sun and HERE is the article. More pics and videos from Mike's blog.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rich States and forced unionism

What do 15 of top 16 States have in common?

They are ALL Right to Work States

What do the bottom 15 States have in common?

They are ALL forced unionism states.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Club for Growth 2008 Congressional Scorecard for TN

Blackburn 100%
Davis, David 90%
Duncan 87%
Wamp 79%
Cooper 38%
Davis, Lincoln 9%
Gordon 1%
Cohen 0%
Tanner 0%

Corker 73%
Alexander 58%

Survey of Federal Workers on TeaParty

Very interesting survey from Most federal employees did not attend but 63% of the respondents say the Teaparties were "significant political events"

As you can see from the summary, most people did not attend (many readers commented they would have gone but were at work) and most (63%) think the impact is the events will be significant.

We also received about 400 comments (in addition to those posted with the original article on the survey). Most comments seemed supportive of the tea parties for a variety of reasons ranging from higher taxes, a government that is putting the nation in debt for generations, and increasing socialism in American society.

Those opposed to the tea parties referred to those attending the tea parties as right wing extremists, racists, whiners, and Republicans unhappy over losing the election.

Here are a few examples from the comments sent in by readers.

An electrician from DOD in California wrote: "The Politicians need to stop spending our grandchildrens money and balance the budget."

A letter carrier from Texas had this comment: "If we do not get CAREER Politicians out of Washington. This Country is doomed. Politics was never designed to be a life long job. We have term limits for the President why not Congress?? If not then I think every person in America should think seriously about going on Welfare because that is where we are headed."

Fed Govt Employee Unions take a shot at Repubs

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Photograpic Essay: North Korea, Land of No Smiles


COLLECTIVIST COMMUTE: When van Houtryve approached North Koreans, they walked off or averted their eyes. He never once photographed a smile. Even children ran away from him. “They’d turn and notice me and immediately bolt off—as if a wolf had come up to them.” Pyongyang’s somber trams are old East German models, giving the city a Soviet feel two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Just wait until you compute the tax hikes you'll pay

because you have to fund government pensions. Then you will REALLY get depressed.


PRINCETON, NJ -- For the first time this decade, a majority of non-retired Americans, 52%, doubt they will have enough money to live comfortably once they retire; only 41% say they will. In 2002, by contrast, 59% of non-retirees were confident that they would have enough retirement income to live comfortably. March on Washington

It’s time to take the tea party movement directly to Washington, D.C. Please join thousands of local organizers and grassroots Americans from across the country as we gather in our nation’s capital to deliver a message to the politicians: Enough!

We’ve had enough of the out of control spending, the bailouts, the growth of big government and the soaring deficits. And we reject the future tax increases to pay for all of this spending and debt down the road. We are gathering on 9-12-2009 to deliver our message in person that we’ve had enough!

Missouri to eliminate Income tax and replace

with a State version of the Fair Tax? Maybe

Missouri lawmakers are considering a drastic change to their tax system. A bill recently passed by the state’s House of Representatives would allow residents to vote on a Constitutional amendment that would eliminate corporate and individual income taxes in the state and replace them with a broad based sales tax. The plan is essentially a state version of the national FairTax proposal popular with some grassroots groups that would replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax. If the Senate passes the bill Missouri residents would be voting on the amendment in November of 2010.

Missouri currently has a sales tax, a corporate income tax, and a personal income tax. The sales tax rate is 4.225%, and the top corporate and personal tax rates are 6.25% and 6%, respectively. The plan put forth would replace all those taxes with a single sales tax levied at a rate of 5.11%. Accompanying the sales tax rate hike would be a substantially broadened sales tax base that would include all purchases. Currently most services are tax exempt and certain goods, most notably groceries, are taxed at a reduced rate of 1.225%. These exemptions would not exist under the new tax structure.

Egads, politicians being political with healthcare law?

Miles Driven continues to plumet


The 12-month moving total for January is the lowest traffic volume (2,917 billion miles) in any month since February 2004. Further, the 107 billion mile reduction in the 12-month moving total since February 2008 (3,024 billion), represents about a $14 billion reduction in fuel costs for American drivers, at an average fuel efficiency of 23 m.p.g., and an average fuel cost of $3 in 2008.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who are the (Bernie Sanders like) socialist Senators?

At the risk of inviting the Left’s wrath, let me help flesh out a list. As for that elusive definition of “socialism,” I’ll use as a barometer the voting record compiled by the Senate’s only avowed man of the people — the distinguished gentleman from Vermont himself. That is, we can presume the more often a lawmaker votes with Congress’s lone acknowledged socialist, the greater his or her comfort level with the sort of policies he embraces.

Thus far in 2009, senators have cast 154 roll-call votes, many of which have been of historic importance. It’s not every Congress, after all, that jumps out of the starting gate and passes trillion-dollar stimulus packages, creates new entitlement programs and expands old ones, repeals the most successful social-policy accomplishment in over half a century (welfare reform), doubles Uncle Sam’s role in education, lays the groundwork for the government’s takeover of our health system, and sets in motion a multi-hundred-billion-dollar tax increase on that most despised of constituent groups — the “rich.”

Yes, these first few months of the Obama Era have been heady times indeed for those who see a government solution to every societal problem.

Only one senator has voted entirely in sync with Sanders: Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. But due to his severe illness, he has voted only eight times, so we will not count him in the following tabulations.

Over one-third of the Senate — 35 senators, all of them Democrats — have voted the Sanders line 90 percent of the time or more. Since that’s more than twice the number we need to fill out Bachus’s list, let’s restrict membership in the “Sanders Socialist Society” to just those senators voting with him at least 95 percent of the time. They number 15: Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), John Kerry (D., Mass.), Jack Reed (D., R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), Tom Harkin (D., Ia.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Roland Burris (D., Ill.), and Ted Kaufman (D., Del.).

Falling just shy of the cut-off — at 94 percent agreement with Sanders — are Sens. Daniel Akaka (D., Hawaii.), Chris Dodd (D., Conn.), Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.), Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), along with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

One in three kids fear environmental apocalypse


Other interesting findings

  • 50 percent say that hurricanes and tornadoes are the natural disasters that scare them the most.
  • 28 percent say that they fear animals, such as polar bears and penguins, will become extinct and disappear from the planet more than any other environmental concern.

Girls worry more

  • 67 percent of girls ages 9-11 versus 60 percent of boys ages 9-11 worry that the earth won’t be as good a place to live when they're adults.
  • 57% of girls ages 6-8 versus 43 percent of boys ages 6-8 worry that the earth won’t be as good a place to live when they're adults.

Urban kids are more anxious than suburban kids

  • 59 percent of kids in metro areas are more concerned that the Earth won’t be as good a place to live when they grow up compared to non-metro kids (47 percent).

Congress: The Real Pirates


JUAN WILLIAMS: Obama’s Outrageous Sin Against Our Kids

The Democrats have once again decided the big contributions and political loyalty of Teacher Unions is more important than educating poor black children. Juan Williams is the latest to be angered. 

In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. Secretary Duncan said in early March that it didn’t make sense “to take kids out of a school where they’re happy and safe and satisfied and learning…those kids need to stay in their school.”

And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program.

But last week Secretary Duncan announced that he will not allow any new students to enter the D.C. voucher program. In fact, he had to take back the government’s offer of scholarships to 200 students who had won a lottery to get into the program starting next year. His rationale is that if the program does not win new funding from Congress then those students might have to go back to public school in a year.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Government Comic Books


The panel on the left comes from "The Story of Banks."

The PDF files are huge and take a while to download.

Lamar Alexander contributed to Arlen Specter 1st Qtr

George Bush helped keep Arlen Specter in a result he was one of the deciding votes for Obama's stimulus package. 

Now Lamar Alexander is continuing that grand tradition.

The five-term Pennsylvania Republican, who faces a tough primary challenge from conservative former Rep. Patrick J. Toomey, received donations from 10 Republican senators in the first three months of this year.

The pro-Specter senators, who donated from either their candidate committees or their leadership PACs, include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Senate GOP Conference chairman.

Billion dollar questions about Convention Center

A big THANK YOU to Nashville MetroCouncilwoman Emily Evans who continues her questioning of the Convention Center. 

This tax-eating boondoggle has been very slowly and incrementally pushed down the throats of Metro  taxpayers. This convention center is a PRIVATE project which will benefit a very few downtown businesses who happen to have enormous lobbying power. Sorry, taxpayers, we lose again if this monstor project is approved.

Questions we should be asking:
1. $75 million dollar note that pays off in 3 years will need about $26 million a year in debt service payments of principle and interest (using a 3% interest rate and uniform principle retirement). Given that the hotel and tourism taxes designated for this purpose only amount to about $16 million a year, how is this going to work? Will this note require some sort of additional pledge or security from Metro? Will it be designed as an interest only loan?

2. What is the budget for this $75 million financing? How much for land? How much for relocation? How much for demolition? How much for engineering, architecture, design, consultants, etc? How much for financing costs? Is $75 milliuon enough? Is $75 million too much?

3. How will they acquire 45 parcels of land by negotiation and condemnation in 5 months? Has any serious pre-negotiation work been done? How many property owners have been contacted? How many contracts have been drafted? Have appraisals been ordered for all properties?

4. Why the piecemeal approach to financing? Why can't we take the advice of our bankers and do what pretty much every other major leisure facility does and make sure we have the financing before getting started? Why buy land if you are not sure you can support and finance a project of this magnitude?

GPS-ing and Picture Taking around Tennessee, EveryTrail


EveryTrail is a global web2.0 platform for geotagged user generated travel content that is changing the way millions of people share their travel experiences and plan their trips. EveryTrail users create valuable content, for themselves, their family and friends, and for the broader community, by uploading GPS data and photos in order to create visual interactive trip reports of their travel experiences.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gov Don Sundquist's refusal to control Tenncare Costs

led to a two year fight over the income tax and eventually resulted in an almost $1 billion sales tax hike. 

If Don Sunquist had made even a feeble attempt at controlling Tenncare prescription drug costs he could have avoided the sales tax hike and the income tax battle.

Phil Bredesen is a Democrat and has made substantial progress in reducing the growth in Tenncare prescription drug costs. 

MUCH MORE needs to be done and quickly. We still have the second highest per capita drug use in the nation.

Last year, the $706 million bill for TennCare pharmaceuticals was less than a third of the $2.44 billion expense in 2005, according to Bureau of TennCare figures. Although much of those savings came from cuts in enrollment and increases in Medicare payments, drug costs for comparable TennCare recipients still were down nearly 40 percent in the past three years.

Clayton McWhorter, a trained pharmacist who once headed Hospital Corp. of America and recently led a major health care study in Tennessee, said cutting prescriptions helped save money and lives.

“We are overmedicating in too many instances,” Mr. McWhorter said. “We’ve got some pretty good data to show that we’ve improved the quality of health care by reducing the number of prescriptions.”

Despite the reduction in drug usage among TennCare recipients, the average Tennessean still used nearly 42 percent more prescriptions than the typical American last year, according to a new study of prescription drug usage. The newest Novartis Pharmacy Benefit Report said Tennessee trailed only West Virginia in per capita drug use during 2008.

Studies by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee also indicate East Tennessee continues to lead the state in the use of prescription drugs.

Treasury Recalling all US Currency

Treasury Department Issues Emergency Recall Of All US Dollars

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cutting up the Congressional Credit Card at the Teaparties

Thanks to Kay Brooks for these pictures of the credit card shtick I used at the Nashville and Franklin Teaparties. Tax Day Tea Party.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tell him we don't negotiate with Pirates

HT: TaxGuru

Cut out the middleman

If only it was this easy, unfortunately the middleman wants his cut also.

HT: TaxGuru

We are all become Octodude

HT: TaxGuru

More "stimulus" = more Waste

The Rural Utilities Service’s broadband program faced heavy criticism in 2005 when auditors found irregularities (PDF) with a quarter of the funds the program had received in its first four years of operation. In one case, the program loaned $45 million to wire affluent subdivisions in the Houston suburbs—including one that was built around a golf course and another outside one of the richest cities in Texas.

Monday’s report found that the Rural Utilities Service continues to grant loans to areas that already have broadband service and to communities near major cities.

“We remain concerned with RUS’ current direction of the broadband program, particularly as they receive greater funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Assistant Inspector General Robert W. Young wrote. “RUS’ broadband program may not meet the Recovery Act’s objective of awarding funds to projects that provide service to the most rural residents that do not have access to broadband service.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wednesday, Noon at Legislative Plaza

Nashville/Davidson County
Tax Day Tea Party

"...this nationwide tax day tea party will be the most important political event of the new century..."

When: 12 noon Wednesday, April 15
 Downtown Nashville, Legislative Plaza, Parking MAP 
Who: Everyone and anyone who is concerned about High Taxes, Trillion dollar deficits, and the Loss of individual freedom.
Speakers: Phil Valentine and Steve Gill and many other special guests.

PLEASE come with your family, friends and neighbors and bring your signs and together we will send a message to Washington, DC they will never forget. Ultimately, it is the duty of every citizen to hold our Federal Government accountable for how they use the money and power we grant to them to use on our behalf.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Top 10 Books on Totalitarianism, one man's list

1. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932) – Concerned about the loss of your liberties? Don't worry; pop a soma and have some sex. Big Pharma's favorite dystopic novel, and the only one with FDA approval.

2. F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944) – When almost everyone, even in the so-called free countries, was in love with social-democratic tyranny, Hayek warned them of where they were heading.

3. Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power (in French 1945, in English 1948) – A poetic, beautifully written analysis of how the independent, intermediating powers had been obliterated by the relentless march of the centralized, "democratic" state.

4. G. M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary (1947) – Top Nazi monsters, now awaiting their verdicts as war criminals, seem like all-too-ordinary men: most of them seem intelligent, reasonable, and no more monstrous than the next guy, if perhaps a bit too inclined to believe that when the head of state gives an order, one must obey.

5. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – The indispensable work on totalitarianism, from which we have taken not only essential understandings, but also much of the vocabulary we use to talk about it: Newspeak, doublethink, Big Brother. Indeed, to describe something as "Orwellian" now paints a picture worth more than a thousand words.

6. Anthony de Jasay, The State (1985) – Think there are sound "public interest" reasons for the state? Think again.

7. R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (1994) – Rummel compiles the data and reduces the twentieth century's moral depravity to the unadorned arithmetic of how many millions of "their own" citizens the various states have deliberately killed. Latest count: more than 200 million.

8. Timur Kuran, Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification(1995) – Why does a tyranny survive? Perhaps because none of its resentful subjects appreciates how many others also oppose it, and therefore everyone is afraid to speak out and put his own neck in the guillotine.

9. Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002) – War and all the horrors that attend it exert a powerful, seductive psychological attraction for many of us, even though it is, when viewed close up, little different from vicious workaday criminality.

10. Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke (2008) – Think the great states that engaged in World War II were led by moral and intellectual paragons? Baker uses their own words to let them convict themselves of almost willfully plunging their subjects into unspeakable horrors.

Smear campaign by Gordon Brown Aid uncovered

DOWNING STREET e-mails setting out plans for a vicious smear campaign against the Tories, which last night forced the resignation of one of the prime minister’s most senior aides, are revealed today.

The e-mails, seen by The Sunday Times, expose how Gordon Brown’s head of strategy and planning wrote to a Labour spin doctor proposing a campaign of unfounded personal slurs against senior Tories. The smears, many of a sexual nature, were planned as part of a strategy to “destabilise” the opposition in the run-up to the general election.

The operation was designed to target David Cameron, the Conservative leader, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, and three other Tory MPs. The messages from Damian McBride, a long-standing Labour aide, were sent from an official No 10 e-mail address. The unfounded smears suggested: “Putting the fear of God” into Osborne by spreading rumours that he took drugs and had sex with a prostitute. Spreading rumours about the mental health of Osborne’s wife. Challenging Cameron to reveal details of an “embarrassing illness”. Accusing a gay Tory MP of promoting his partner’s business interests in the Commons.

McBride’s e-mails were sent to Derek Draper, a former aide to Lord Mandelson and prominent Labour blogger. In an indication of how serious the plan was, McBride wrote about how to “sequence” the stories for maximum impact. The messages discuss “timing and technology” for placing the rumours on the web and contain suggested links to websites and photographs that could make the allegations appear more credible.

It's OK to cry Dow Jones Hanky


47, never been kissed and gets her shot at Stardom


Goldman Sachs tries to shut down blogger

The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled "Facts about Goldman Sachs" – the web address for which is – just a few weeks ago. 
In that time Mr Morgan, a registered investment adviser, has added a number of posts to the site, including one entitled "Does Goldman Sachs run the world?". However, many of the posts relate to other Wall Street firms and issues.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site "violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights" and also "implies a relationship" with the bank itself.

Unsurprisingly for a man who has conjoined the bank's name with the Number of the Beast – although he jokingly points out that 666 was also the S&P500's bear-market bottom – Mr Morgan is unlikely to go down without a fight.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

45 million uninsured?? Not really

Link  via Insty

Let us walk through the graph from top to bottom.

  • There were 45.7 million uninsured people in the U.S. in 2007.
  • Of that amount, 6.4 million are the Medicaid undercount.  These are people who are on one of two government health insurance programs, Medicaid or S-CHIP, but mistakenly (intentionally or not) tell the Census taker that they are uninsured.  There is disagreement about the size of the Medicaid undercount.  This figure is based on a 2005 analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Another 4.3 million are eligible for free or heavily subsidized government health insurance (again, either Medcaid or SCHIP), but have not yet signed up.  While these people are not pre-enrolled in a health insurance program and are therefore counted as uninsured, if they were to go to an emergency room (or a free clinic), they would be automatically enrolled in that program by the provider after receiving medical care.  There’s an interesting philosophical question that I will skip about whether they are, in fact, uninsured, if technically they are protected from risk.
  • Another 9.3 million are non-citizens.  I cannot break that down into documented vs. undocumented citizens.
  • Another 10.1 million do not fit into any of the above categories, and they have incomes more than 3X the poverty level.  For a single person that means their income exceeded $30,600 in 2007, when the median income for a single male was $33,200 and for a female, $21,000.  For a family of four, if your income was more than 3X the poverty level in 2007, you had $62,000 of income or more, and you were above the national median.
  • Of the remaining 15.6 million uninsured, 5 million are adults between ages 18 and 34 and without kids.
  • The remaining 10.6 million do not fit into any of the above categories, so they are:
    • U.S. citizens;
    • with income below 300% of poverty;
    • not on or eligible for a taxpayer-subsidized health insurance program;
    • and not a childless adult between age 18 and 34.



Milwaukee Public School system wastes $103 mil/yr

Milwaukee Public Schools could save as much as $103 million a year if it operated like a well-run business, according to a much-anticipated report that has Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett taking steps that could lead to a takeover of the system.

The report, released Thursday, concludes that MPS does not have a culture aimed at achieving good results, and is in tenuous financial shape that will worsen without systemic changes.

The report mostly sidesteps the academic side of MPS, concentrating instead on business operations, from busing to lunch programs to purchasing practices to health insurance policies. It found waste in every area - inefficient payroll processing, overqualified maintenance teams, even pencil sharpeners that cost more than $100. The report also found more than five dozen central office jobs with six-figure salaries.

Spending outside the classroom is about a third of total MPS spending.

"To free up funds needed to close its worrisome academic achievement gaps, MPS must first get its financial house in order," the report says.

How NOT to do a press interview

Swedish Tax Bureaucrats chasing online strippers

Mr Hardyson told BBC News that the strippers could be liable to pay about half of their earnings in tax. Striptease via webcam is quite legal in Sweden, unlike prostitution, he added.

"I don't think they have any costs really - almost 100% of what they earn is pocketed. Many have regular work and this is extra income. We want them to register their activity as a business - it's still taxable, even if it's a hobby," he said.
He stressed the difficulty of identifying strippers, saying the contact information on the websites was often "not obvious".

"We have to visit the companies behind the websites to get the information, then we have to work with the electronic wallets where the money is going in."
He said the Swedish tax authorities had been tipped off about Swedish internet strippers by the Dutch authorities, who had started a similar investigation earlier.
Web search tools like spiders had failed to detect the Swedish strippers.
"When we investigated the sites manually it worked better," he added.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Congressional Aids hired by Bailed out Firms

I am not sure how Congress can become more corrupt.

Ex-staffers for at least 10 members of the Senate finance committee—including the committee's chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and senior Republican member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)—have lobbied lawmakers on behalf of big financial firms receiving billions of dollars of government assistance. And at least five members of the Senate banking committee have former aides lobbying Congress on financial matters. These include Dodd and ranking Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
Several leading lawmakers with ex-aides lobbying for bailed-out financial titans were not eager to discuss contacts between their offices or committees and those lobbyists. The offices of both Dodd and Shelby refused to respond to requests for information about any interactions with former staffers now on the payroll of financial firms. (Ditto for Dodd's banking committee.) A spokesperson for Baucus would not comment directly on whether the Senate finance committee chairman has been lobbied by his past aides. He only noted, "Over the past six months Sen. Baucus and his staff have been providing aggressive oversight of the TARP funds, and fought to protect American taxpayers." Baucus' office brushed aside Mother Jones' questions about two former chiefs of staff: David Castagnetti, a lobbyist for Credit Suisse (an AIG counterparty), and Jeff Forbes, who lobbies for Capitol One, which received $3.56 billion in TARP funds. The office of Sen. Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican who sits on both the Senate banking and finance committees, did not respond to a request for comment regarding any contacts between Bunning's staff and Jon Deuser, who lobbied for Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon, recipients of $45 billion and $3 billion in TARP money, respectively. Until 2005, Deuser was Bunning's chief of staff.

Federal Budget Deficit triples to almost $1 trillion

and that is just for 6 months!!

For the first six months of fiscal 2009, the budget shortfall totaled $956.80 billion. In the first six months of fiscal 2008, the government ran a deficit of $312.75 billion. In all of fiscal 2008, the government ran a deficit of $454.80 billion, which was a record high.

French Entrepreneurs find home in US

Don't expect this to last long. The Pres and Congress are determined to turn the US into the biggest corporate welfare state in the world. 

Small firms that don't suck up to the politicians with contributions and lobbying will soon also be an endangered species in the US. French entrepreneurs will have to find another place of business.

France, of course, is well known for many of the finer things in life -- its cuisine, its wines, its culture -- but it is not notorious for its prowess in technological innovation.

As it turns out, there are some 400 to 500 French companies operating in California's Silicon Valley, according to French trade groups, among them are Talend, a data integration company founded in France in 2005 which now has offices in Los Altos, Calif. (and the UK, Germany, Belgium) and boasts clients such as Yahoo!, Virgin Mobile, Honda, Sony and the United Nations. VirtualLogix, a French virtualization software start-up based in Silicon Valley, has received financing from Cisco Systems, Intel and Motorola. Qualys, another privately held company offering network security software as a service to companies such as eBay, Cisco and Hewlett Packard, was started by two French entrepreneurs and is now based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

"Overall France has been much more friendly to big firms than it has been to start-ups," says Isabelle Lescent-Giles, an associate professor of international business at San José State University whose studies compare business cultures in Europe, U.S. and Asia. "Launching a start-up in France is like playing Russian roulette in some ways."