Sunday, September 30, 2012
An American archbishop has reminded a congregation that included six Supreme Court justices Sunday to be open to the spirit of God, beg for his blessings and “strive to be instruments of a new evangelization.”
The Archdiocese of Washington said Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer were at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for Red Mass in Washington, where they celebrated the Sunday before the Supreme Court begins its new term.
You, American Airlines, should no longer be flying across the Atlantic. You do not have the know-how. You do not have the equipment. And your employees have clearly lost interest in the endeavor. Like the country whose name graces the hulls of your flying ships, you are exhausted and shorn of purpose. You need to stop.
Flight 121 from Paris to New York began on a clear autumn afternoon. It ended over 30 hours later. For those of us without miles, it is probably still going.
The PEER axis bankrolled and sold California voters on the Water Quality, Supply and Safe Drinking Water Projects Act (aka Prop. 50), an initiative that added $3.4 billion of indebtedness to California’s already overburdened economy. Thanks to fine print in the newly enacted legislation, the Ocean Protection Council, which has nothing to do with drinking water, managed to get its hands on Prop. 50 money. Lunacy ensued:
So, what are Californians getting for their money, which costs them $227 million a year in interest payments? For starters, the bureaucrats that serve as the council’s staff engineered a quarter-million-dollar grant to a Portland, Oregon outfit called Ecotrust to develop a pilot program for a seafood market at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf that would be filled with “regionally sourced” seafood. Talk about inept. Any visitor to Fisherman’s Wharf can tell you free market enterprise has already filled the place with fishmongers hawking regionally sourced seafood. That doesn’t keep Sacramento’s eco-bureaucrats from subsidizing an Oregon group’s seafood stand on the Wharf, even if it has nothing to do with the clean water voters thought they were voting for when they passed Prop. 50.
If the Prop. 50 economic adventure was just a single boondoggle, one could laugh the whole thing off, despite the high price tag. The problem is that this vignette — voters being sold a bill of goods, only to see legislators, bureaucrats, unions, environmentalists, and carpetbaggers waste the money — is repeated over and over again at both the state and county level. For example, in the normal world, a prison doctor too incompetent even to provide the basic care accorded prisoners is fired. In California, the Department of Corrections pays him $400,000 annually to work in the prison mail room.
Then there’s the California Courts’ new integrated case management system. Originally budgeted for $260 million, the current cost estimate is now $1.9 billion, with another billion needed after completion so that the system can actually be deployed (seven years late). That’s going to be some integrated case management system, right? Noooo, not so. After two of the largest counties that participated in a system trial serious contemplated pulling out entirely:
An audit by the California State Auditor recommended that the whole CCMS endeavor be stopped and reconsidered because it is so far behind schedule, so far over budget and so at risk of quality problems when it finally is implemented.
In the private sector, heads would roll. In California, this is government business as usual.
It would be a little better if the people looting the state weren't so morally superior about it. I think if I were fleecing the taxpayers I would at least feel guilty about it. --TS
Botox is more ubiquitous than yoga pants in Hollywood. But women (and men) in Asia have been taking part in a different injection "trend" for years: saline bagel-shaped injections on one's forehead.
"National Geographic Taboo" chronicles the bizarre beauty treatment in an upcoming episode set in Tokyo, following three people who opt into the temporary forehead injections which have become a keen part of the Japanese "body modification" art scene.
Well that's just wrong. --TS
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Here's a defense for when your boss catches you watching kitten videos on the job: New research shows looking at cute images of baby animals may actually improve your work performance, inspiring more fine-tuned attention and careful behavior.
Perhaps unsurprisingly this new study comes from researchers in Japan, where kawaii (Japanese for "cute") reigns. From the characters of "Hello Kitty" and "Pokémon's" Pikachu, cute creatures stir positive feelings, researchers say, because they resemble babies with their big eyes and large heads.
We don't begrudge Ms. Warren's handsome earnings or her stands on legal principle, even if those principles do happen to underscore the complex nature of both the law and modern economy. But when she talks about "the millionaires and billionaires" who supposedly "wrecked our economy" and "still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them"—as she put it at the Charlotte convention—perhaps she ought to recall her own legal strutting.
By the way, Harvard requires its professors to report any extracurricular consulting activities, but Ms. Warren is refusing to disclose this list so voters can decide for themselves if she's really a handmaid to the plutocrats disguised as Robin Hood through November 6. It would be instructive to learn what other corporations, and maybe even a billionaire, have had her on their payrolls.
I think the WSJ is uncharitable here. Professor Warren could not approach her telos as the perfect embodiment of contemporary American leftism without a very substantial admixture of hypocrisy worked in. Someday she will be a very old lady, living in a very big house, talking about the glory days, and treating her servants like dirt. --TS
Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health care resources more prudently — rationing, by its proper name — the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.
Death panels. Get over it. --TS
Friday, September 28, 2012
Tough’s book is part of what you might call the psychologizing of domestic policy. In the past several decades, policy makers have focused on the material and bureaucratic things that correlate to school failure, like poor neighborhoods, bad nutrition, schools that are too big or too small. But, more recently, attention has shifted to the psychological reactions that impede learning — the ones that flow from insecure relationships, constant movement and economic anxiety.
Of course the profound mystery is where the dissolution of values that led to the dissolution of family and social structures came from. Who's idea was it that you didn't need two parent families, that sex was cool anytime, before, outside of marriage, whenever, that drugs were cool, that anything alternative was probably a great idea? Yes, I'm just kidding. We know who those geniuses were. But Brooks is way too savvy to even allude to that. It's not like he envies the cultural position of Charles Murray. --TS
While no one in the Barack Obama administration knows whether Israel will strike Iran's nuclear program, America's war planners are preparing for a wide array of potential Israeli military options -- while also trying to limit the chances of the United States being drawn into a potentially bloody conflict in the Persian Gulf.
Iran's getting the bomb is going to go down as an enormous failure of US strategic policy. Bush bears plenty of blame for it but so does Obama. Power is not power if you are not willing to use it. If you are willing to use it, you won't have to, or not as much. Part of the huge miscalculation that has been Iraq is how it has paralyzed us against Iran, which turns out to be the greater threat, even against Israel. This is a huge failure. If the neo-con idea was to protect Israel against existential threats, they have failed. It turns out Iraq did not have WMDs, at least not to any dangerous extent, but Iran sure is going to, and soon. So by defending against imaginary WMDs we have rendered ourselves impotent against real ones. By being incapable of action (being unable to restrain the CIA from doing what it wants to do doesn't count as action) Obama has created circumstances in which inaction may be his best course; it may be too late to stop Iran now. Bush was capable of acting, just not capable of formulating his own strategic vision, unless you count his fantasy of democracy sweeping the Middle East. Now our best hope is that somehow having nuclear weapons will make the mullahs more sober and less crazy. That seems doubtful. --TS