January 22, 2007

House Passes First Tax Increase Attempt in 13 Years; Attempts to Punish ‘Big Oil’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:36 pm

Andy Roth at Club for Growth, with an assist from Americans for Tax Reform, flags 36 House Members who broke a pledge never to vote for tax increases. Two big disappointments on that list to me are Kirk from IL and Ros-Lehtinen from FL.

Reviewing the roll call vote for local members (Metro Cincinnati), the Big Five held firm (Boehner, Chabot, Schmidt, and Turner from OH, and Davis from KY).

RELATED: From ShopFloor.org — “Congress Votes for Higher Energy Prices”

Paragraph of the Day: John Andrews Sees ‘Diversity’ and ‘Multiculturalism’ As the New Racism

Filed under: General,Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 11:47 am

The term “New Racism” is mine, but in his January 21 column on the New Year’s Eve murder of Denver Broncos football player Darrent Williams (“Dr. King wept when Darrent died”), Andrews cut through the clutter and babble in one succinct paragraph and nails the true character of modern “diversity” and “multiculturalism” (bolds are mine):

Consider, instead, the moral bankruptcy implicit in our designating gangsters as just another “culture” in the first place. Criminality and bloodlust aren’t a culture, they are a pathology. Multiculturalism started benignly with diverse foods and fashions. But now, with its spineless tolerance for every group’s redefinition of right and wrong, multiculturalism invites social suicide. Too bad, we say, but that’s just the way “those people” are.

Really, how racist is that?

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UPDATE, Jan. 23: Burt Prelutsky has a great related column (HT Large Bill), which is a full must-read, and has this zinger related to the Andrews excerpt above –

Actually, what most whites are is cowardly. When we see black kids with the top of their baggy pants drooping somewhere south of their butts, annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes, saying “they be” when they mean “they are,” and we pretend that theirs is a different, but equally fine culture as our own, we’re no better than those enablers who give money to drug addicts or booze to alcoholics.

Another ‘Hidden’ Cost of Regulation Becomes Horribly Visible

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:02 am

At least it’s visible to those who know the history of the solution that would have prevented citrus freezes like the one that took place in California during the past week. That solution never came to market, which is why more people need to know the story of what Dr. Henry I. Miller at TCS Daily wrote about last Thursday:

Jack Frost taunted area farmers last week with blasts of arctic air that threatened several of central California’s major farming areas. The direct losses in citrus alone could approach a billion dollars.

Such climatic catastrophes are nothing new. A 1990 freeze in California caused about $800 million in damage to agriculture and resulted in the layoff of 12,000 citrus industry workers, including pickers, packers, harvesters and salespeople. A three-day freeze in 1998 destroyed 85 percent of the state’s citrus crop, a loss valued at $700 million. And in 2002, lettuce prices around the country went through the roof after an unseasonable frost struck the Arizona and California deserts.

Peaches, citrus and other crops are regularly threatened by frost in the Southeastern United States. Losses to American farmers are in the billions of dollars annually.

….. The only possible high-tech solution, a clever application of biotechnology, has been frozen out by federal regulators.

In the early 1980′s scientists at the University of California and in industry devised a new approach to limiting frost damage. They knew that a harmless bacterium which normally lives on many plants contains an “ice nucleation” protein that promotes frost damage. Therefore, they sought to produce a variant of the bacterium that lacked the ice-nucleation protein, reasoning that spraying this variant bacterium (dubbed “ice-minus”) on plants might prevent frost damage by displacing the common, ice-promoting kind. Using very precise biotechnology techniques called “gene splicing,” the researchers removed the gene for the ice nucleation protein and planned field tests with ice-minus bacteria.

Then the government stepped in, and that was the beginning of the end.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified as a pesticide the obviously innocuous ice-minus bacterium, which was to be tested in northern California on small, fenced-off plots of potatoes and strawberries. The regulators reasoned that the naturally-occurring, ubiquitous, “ice-plus” bacterium is a “pest” because its ice-nucleation protein promotes ice crystal formation. Therefore, other bacteria intended to displace it would be a “pesticide.” This is the kind of absurd, convoluted reasoning that could lead EPA to regulate outdoor trash cans as a pesticide because litter is an environmental “pest.”

….. Although the ice-minus bacteria proved safe and effective at preventing frost damage in field trials, further research was discouraged by the combination of onerous government regulation, the inflated expense of doing the experiments and the prospect of huge downstream costs of pesticide registration. As a result, the product was never commercialized, and plants cultivated for food and fiber throughout much of the nation remain vulnerable to frost damage. We have the EPA to thank for farmers’ livelihood in jeopardy, jobs lost, and inflated produce prices for consumers.

When will the EPA re-think its policies? Probably not before hell freezes over.

The nearly $1 billion in losses associated with California’s most recent citrus-freeze, the other events noted above, plus all of the other worthy improvements that would have made it to the market but for nanny-state overzealousness, don’t get included in the tallies that document the cost of government regulation (currently $8,000 annually per household; see UPDATE 2 at link). They should be.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (012207)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:16 am

So slow cooking is as big a threat as incineration — never mind that the slow cooking is a hyped-up fantasy. It’s just another attention-grabbing group, this time the “Doomsday Clock” people, succumbing to yet another wave of PC.

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I’m not going to get into the merits or demerits of this project. Instead, I want to take note that The Creation Museum’s $27 million cost is 25% of the $110 million it took to build the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Additionally, the Creation Museum will be opening in debt-free condition and probably won’t even think of asking for government money it would surely never get, while the Freedom Center appears to want to put local and state taxpayers on the hook for a portion of its operating costs for eternity.

What’s with the contrast?

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In reviewing BizJournals headlines from around the country, I came across quite a few indicators that the employment situation around the USA is pretty good:

  • Kansas job vacancies nearly 48,000 — “A report conducted by the Kansas Department of Labor show that Kansas businesses had an estimated 47,911 job vacancies in the spring of 2006. During the same period, there were 64,609 unemployed workers.”
  • Minnesota sees strongest job growth since 1999 — “According to a report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 2006 gained 54,580 more jobs than at the end of 2005. The state’s annual employment growth rate of 2 percent again outpaced the national rate of 1.4 percent.”
  • (From Hawaii) Job Quest sold out again — “With Hawaii unemployment at 2.2 percent, employers this week will again jam Honolulu’s Blaisdell Center for a job fair. Job Quest, now in its 10th year, is the state’s oldest and largest job fair and career event. More than 200 employers have signed up for the Wednesday event.’This is a clear indication that the state’s economy remains strong,’ said Job Quest Executive Director Beth Busch.”

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Like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Maryland’s “Wal-Mart Law,” which targeted the retailer’s health insurance and benefits practices, is still dead (HT Boring Made Dull).

RIP, Mark Daily

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:11 am

Army 2nd Lt. Mark Daily was killed in Iraq last week.

Mark Daily told us on October 29, 2006: “Why I Joined.”

Read the whole thing.

Gored by His Own Globaloney

Filed under: Environment — Tom @ 6:06 am

Too funny (HT Instapundit):

Gore Effect — The phenomenon that leads to unseasonally cold temperatures, driving rain, hail, or snow whenever Al Gore visits an area to discuss global warming. Hence, the Gore Effect.

- Australia, November 2006: Al Gore is visiting two weeks before summer begins. The Gore Effect strikes: “Ski resort operators gazed at the snow in amazement. Parents took children out of school and headed for the mountains. Cricketers scurried amid bullets of hail as Melburnians traded lunchtime tales of the incredible cold.” (The Age)

- New York, March 2004: “Gore chose January 15, 2004, one of the coldest days in New York City’s history, to rail against the Bush administration and global warming skeptics… Global warming, Gore told a startled audience, is causing record cold temperatures.” (NY Environment News)

As you also see, supposedly man-made “global warming” (now being cleverly recast as “climate change”), according to the Gospel of St. Al, is not only dangerously heating up the planet, it is the cause of the supposedly more frequent weather extremes we are experiencing. It would have been more appropriate if Gore’s 2004 Gotham audience had laughed.

Instapundit says: “….. I think that the real cause of this cold snap in the L.A./Hollywood area is that Al Gore has been shortlisted for an Oscar. Al just can’t catch a break.”

Thought of the Day: On Reviving the ‘Fairness Doctrine’

From Carlo at Techdirt, which has never been accused of being a hotbed of conservative thinking (in fact elsewhere in his post, he takes a shot at Fox News):

The Fairness Doctrine also makes less and less sense in an age where the number of media outlets is proliferating. There’s no limit to the number of places that can provide news or opinion, and professionals and the public have more tools than ever at their disposal to tell their own stories and express their own viewpoints. To require certain media to provide an arbitrary level of “balance” makes less sense than encouraging people with disagreeing viewpoints to develop their own media outlets, whether it’s a blog, newsletter or even a cable TV channel. Kucinich says that “the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda” — but reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine would simply replace that corporate agenda with that of a political appointee, and that’s really not very fair.

Succinct BizzyBlog reax to the attempt to revive the misnamed Fairness Doctrine is here.

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UPDATE: Red State Rampage has the nomenclature right.

Positivity: Brownstown woman donates her hair, urges others to do the same

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Metro Detroit — a cancer survivor wants to help kids who are fighting illness:

January 14, 2007

In February 2006, Brownstown resident Liela Shrum — just 31 years old and with no family history of cancer whatsoever — was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As Shrum battled the disease, she found strength in herself and her family and friends. The ordeal also gave her a new understanding for what others in a similar situation go through.

The hairstylist at HairID in Trenton became involved in Children With Hairloss, a Downriver-based nonprofit group that provides wigs for children who have suffered medical-related hair loss.

Prior to the start of chemotherapy treatment at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Shrum was told that she would lose all her hair. She decided to cut off six inches at that time and donate the hair to Children With Hairloss.

One of the things that Shrum loves most about the nonprofit organization is that it provides wigs, completely free of charge, to any person 21 years old and under who has hair loss due to illness.

Regina Villemure of South Rockwood, founder and chief executive officer of the organization based in South Rockwood, conceived the idea 23 years ago when her then-3-year-old niece was undergoing treatment for leukemia.

“At that time there were no wigs made for children,” she said. “They would have to wear adult wigs cut down, and you could really tell.”

Today her niece is a healthy new mother, often speaking at engagements promoting the organization.

Villemure said that raising children and working made implementing her idea a long time coming, but it has been up and running since 2002.

Shrum and her husband of four years, Jayson Shrum, were settling into parenthood when she learned she had cancer. At that time, their oldest daughter, Leena, was just 1 1/2 . Jenna was 9 months.

“I had never done a self-breast examination in my life,” said Shrum, “but I was in the shower and I noticed a marble-sized lump.”

Shrum thought that, since she had stopped breast-feeding Jenna only a few months before, her body was just adjusting from her pregnancy and that the lump was nothing to worry about.

When her husband came home from work that night she told him what she had found. He urged her to go to her doctor and have the lump checked.

“I knew in my heart that there was nothing to worry about,” said Jayson. “There was no way that a 31-year-old woman in good health could have anything to worry about.”

But the news was not good.

Following a trip to the doctor and a mammogram, Shrum was called back for an ultrasound and an emergency biopsy, resulting in the diagnosis of stage III breast cancer.

Behind the marble-sized lump Shrum felt was a 10-centimeter mass. That discovery saved her life.

“The doctors told me that the lump was a work of God,” she said, “because if the lump had not come out, they would have never found it.”

Shrum decided that she would have a bilateral mastectomy — a decision that her doctor did not initially support.

“He felt that it would be far too painful and there would be too much down time for me, but I have two little girls, and I did not want to have to go through this again down the road,” she said.

Following surgery, Shrum underwent six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and 6 1/2 weeks of radiation, every Monday through Friday.

When Shrum started losing her hair, she and her husband strapped their girls into their high chairs, gave them each a Popsicle, and let them watch while her husband shaved her head. “We did not want them to be shocked if I just showed up one day with it shaved off,” she said.

After Shrum’s head was shaved, her cousin, Dina Doyle, immediately told her that she wanted to shave her head, too.

Shrum felt that she could not let her do that, but she did offer to cut off 10 inches of Dina’s hair and that was also sent to Children With Hairloss.

Shrum returned to work after her treatment concluded in October 2006.

A stylist for 12 years, she now urges her clients, family and friends to donate their hair to Children With Hairloss. She just recently cut daughter Leena’s hair for the first time and donated it to the group. …..