TheCapitol.netCoursesConvenience LearningCustom TrainingPublicationsFaculty & AuthorsClientsStoreClient Care

July 2009 Archives

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Committee Report"

Committee Report: Document accompanying a measure reported from a committee. It contains an explanation of the provisions of the measure, arguments for its approval, and other information.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

July 31, 2009 07:17 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Real World Research Skills, Second Edition

The 2nd Edition of Peggy Garvin's Real World Research Skills was published today, July 30, 2009, and is now available at your local bookstore (special order), Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Real World Research Skills Second Edition: An Introduction to Factual, International, Judicial, Legislative, and Regulatory Research, by Peggy Garvin

This book compiles basic advice, techniques, reference information, and resources to help working professionals find accurate information quickly. It is written particularly for those whose work involves tapping into federal government information. The book began as a set of materials for TheCapitol.Net’s seminar, "Research Tools and Techniques: Refining Your Online and Offline Searches." It is designed to be used as a complement to that seminar or independently as a desk reference.

The first and second chapters cover practical principles of research and online searching, including the general search engines. These sections include checklists and advice that are applicable to many different research tasks and many different databases and search engines.

The third, fourth, and fifth chapters present resources for federal legislative, judicial, and executive branch research.

The sixth chapter covers starting points for state and international research on the web.

The final chapter, “Experts and Insiders,” has tips for tapping into that vital Washington information resource: people.

In our knowledge economy, more and more people—with a wide range of education and experience—are moving into jobs that require some information-gathering skills. The research training provided at many schools lays a foundation, but often does not prepare us for the varied demands of the working world.

This book can help anyone involved in government research by increasing their information literacy, improving their research effectiveness and efficiency.

For a complete Table of Contents and secure online ordering, see the book's web page

July 30, 2009 10:27 AM   Link    Publications ~   Real World Research    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/30/09

RIP: John S. Barry

  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Disney Small World ride a casualty of the obesity epidemic - "Despite my kind of flippant tone in this post, I don’t find the large numbers of obese guests (as the Disneyland staff refers to the people paying to go there) and staff amusing in the slightest. I think it is tragic. As I’ve said many times before, we have all been the unwitting subjects of a long experiment, the hypothesis of which is that since fat is bad and carbs are good, we should all eat low-fat, high-carb diets. If so, says this hypothesis, obesity will go away. Well, it hasn’t. It has gotten much, much worse. And the sad, sad thing is that this hypothesis was never validated scientifically before we were all enrolled in the experiment. When I see dozens and dozens of young people looking like the one pictured above, it makes my blood boil. Most of the people who inflicted this nonsense on us are still around and still pushing the carbs and still blaming the fat in the diet. Tar and feathers spring to mind."
  • New York Times Can't Afford to Hire Housekeeper - "This comment from Paul Krugman, Nobel prize winner, hugely popular New York Times columnist, and important media star, says more about the state of the economy and newspapers than anything else I have seen to date:"
  • Maker's schedule, Manager's Schedule - "There are two types of schedule, which I'll call the manager's schedule and the maker's schedule. The manager's schedule is for bosses. It's embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals. You can block off several hours for a single task if you need to, but by default you change what you're doing every hour.

    When you use time that way, it's merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you're done.

    Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command. But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.

    When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it." ht Kottke
  • Court Okays Secession for New Jersey Cul-de-sac: Bay Beach Way - "Bay Beach Way’s residents are reminding government of something seemingly forgotten: citizens are taxed because they expect to get certain services in return. When those tax rates are punitive and services poor, the choices are to vote your elected officials out of office (or have them recalled, like Point Pleasant Beach), to 'vote with your feet' and move. Or, in this case, re-draw the line."
  • UAW to TARP Oversight Panel: FOAD - "But even though the White House is on hand to show how easy putting your best platitude forward can be, the UAW won’t be joining the testimonial fun.

    The Congressional Oversight Panel isn’t happy about the non-development. 'The UAW came before Congress and pleaded for billions of taxpayer assistance,' GOP member Rep. Jeb Hensarling tells the Detroit News. 'Their ownership stakes in Chrysler and GM look suspicious at best and like sweetheart deals at worst. It’s outrageous they would benefit from the taxpayers’ money and then refuse to testify about it.'

    Outrageous, yes. But not entirely unexpected. Hensarling said it himself . . . 'Without [the UAW], the panel cannot provide meaningful oversight for $80 billion of taxpayer support rewarded to Chrysler and GM.'"
  • President Obama Can’t Locate Any Waste - "If you can’t find $100 million to cut, you just are not even trying."
  • What Keeps Poor Kids Out of College? - "There’s ample econometric evidence showing that private schools boost high school graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and college graduation rates, especially for urban minorities, over the levels seen in public schools (and after appropriate controls for student and family background). Policies that give these students easier access to private schools should thus improve their college prospects significantly."
  • WaPo: Foreclosures Frequently Best Alternative for Lenders - "When you compare the losses from foreclosure to the losses from modifications - and include self-cure risk and redefault risk - the researchers argue there are very few preventable foreclosures."
  • Some Democrats Worry About Abortion Funds in Healthcare Bill - "Add abortion to the list of issues that could trip up President Obama's bid for healthcare reform this year. Conservative Democrats and antiabortion Republicans are mounting strong opposition to an element of the health reform plans that would mandate taxpayer funding for abortions, a clause that the White House won't rule out as a key element to the final package. Democrats first raised the issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter in which they said that mandated abortion coverage 'is unacceptable.'"
  • Ghulam Nabi Azad says late-night TV will help slow India’s birth rate - "India intends to harness the passion-killing properties of late-night television to help to control a potentially catastrophic population explosion. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Health and Family Welfare Minister, has called for the country to redouble its efforts to bring electricity to all of its huge rural population." ht Marginal Revolution
  • We Are All African Now - "Some 99% of the human genome is shuffled from one birth to the next. The Genographic Project traces the 1% of the genome which is not shuffled--mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) through the maternal line and the Y-chromosome through the paternal. These jokers in the pack allow geneticists to work back to our common ancestors. Our mtDNA appears to coalesce in a single woman, who lived on the African savannah 150,000 years ago. Our Y-chromosome survives from a single man, who lived in the Rift Valley of Kenya or Tanzania 59,000 years ago. So Adam and Eve did exist--90,000 years apart. The discrepancy is because, unlike the biblical Adam and Eve, this couple only represent the last common Ancestors we can trace genetically." ht The Browser
  • Liberals revolt after Blue Dog health deal - "Just hours after House Democratic leaders announced a deal with their party's conservative Blue Dogs on a sweeping health care reform bill, their liberal wing is pushing back."
  • Class sizes grow - "A Tennessee study showed long-term gains for classes of 14 to 17 students in the early grades, especially for blacks. However, small classes in higher grades don’t produce significant performance gains, says researcher Eric Hanushek."
  • Janet Yellen Channels Ronald Reagan: "Deficit's Don't Matter" - "Her thinking underpins the basis for Bernanke's strategy of packing the banks with liquidity, monetizing their assets, but maintaining control of that added liquidity by having the ability to attract bank reserves into the Fed where they can be managed through the ability to pay interest on those reserves."
  • "Illegal Eggs Taste Amazing" - "A recent study found that $10 wine tastes better if the drinker thinks it's $90 wine ("with the higher priced wines, more blood and oxygen is sent to a part of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, whose activity reflects pleasure"). The same phenomenon is probably at least partially responsible for raptures over illegal duck eggs and summer sausage. The price is only part of the cost, and an egg custard that might land you in the pokey is bound to be more delicious than a legit dessert make from supermarket eggs."
  • Women's (or Men's) Concealed Carry Handgun Recommendations: - "In keeping with my original query, I'd like to ask commenters to specially consider what might be preferred by women, or to be more precise (1) by people who might be on the smaller side, or (2) by people who might want to carry in a purse rather than in a holster. On the other hand, if you think you have a good unisex answer, or have advice only for men and not for women, please feel free to post it -- just note whom your advice is focused on."
  • Rice and Beans for 2n - "olive oil or butter
    n yellow onions
    other fresh vegetables; experiment
    3n cloves garlic
    n 12-oz cans white, kidney, or black beans
    n cubes Knorr beef or vegetable bouillon
    n teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    3n teaspoons ground cumin
    n cups dry rice, preferably brown

    Put rice in rice cooker. Add water as specified on rice package. (Default: 2 cups water per cup of rice.) Turn on rice cooker and forget about it.

    Chop onions and other vegetables and fry in oil, over fairly low heat, till onions are glassy. Put in chopped garlic, pepper, cumin, and a little more fat, and stir. Keep heat low. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes, then add beans (don't drain the beans), and stir. Throw in the bouillon cube(s), cover, and cook on lowish heat for at least 10 minutes more. Stir vigilantly to avoid sticking.

    If you want to save money, buy beans in giant cans from discount stores. Spices are also much cheaper when bought in bulk. If there's an Indian grocery store near you, they'll have big bags of cumin for the same price as the little jars in supermarkets."
  • Take Close Note - "Top Party Schools, from the new Princeton Review college guide:"
  • Clean Energy Shopping List: 5 Stocks with Technology to Improve Grid Reliability - "I previously stated I like all smart grid stocks because I see so much potential for the sector, and I have a hard time picking winners. But when I have to choose, in a competitive market with many new entrants, I tend to favor established companies that already have established business lines and experience working with customers in the space."
  • Thyroid: Be a perfectionist - "Iodine replacement should be part of any thyroid health effort. Iodine is not an optional trace mineral, no more than vitamin C is optional (else your teeth fall out). The only dangers to iodine replacement are to those who have been starved of iodine for many years; increase iodine and the thyroid can over-respond. I've seen this happen in 2 of the last 300 people who have supplemented iodine."
  • God and Majors: Some parents of faith have long worried about the possible impact of (secular) colleges on the religious observances of their children. - "Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity -- measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences." ht Marginal Revolution
  • Genographic Project - "With a simple and painless cheek swab you can sample your own DNA and submit it to the lab. We run ONE test per participation kit. We will test either your mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down each generation from mother to child and reveals your direct maternal ancestry; or your Y chromosome (males only), which is passed down from father to son and reveals your direct paternal ancestry. You choose which test you would like administered."

    We did this last year, running paternal for father and maternal for daughter. Perfect gift for $100.
  • Using Niacin to Improve Cardiovascular Health - "Niacin’s benefits are not limited to its influence on blood markers of cardiovascular disease risk. It also reduces heart attack risk dramatically."
  • Yes, Things are Still Better than They Used to Be - "If one thinks about all the bad economic policies and the general growth of the state that has taken place since the early 70s, the fact that life is still so much better in so many ways should lead one to think, to borrow from Pete, that the Smithian forces of the division of labor and the power of Schumpeterian innovation will indeed continue to conquer the stupidity of the state. No doubt the fight will be a tougher one in the years to come, thanks to the events of the last year, but both history and theory suggest that the combined efforts of humanity coordinated by even restricted markets will still win out over the stumbling and bumbling of the political class."
  • Patents On Common Beans Rejected 10 Years Too Late - "This one's a bit old, but Boing Boing just pointed us to the incredible story of a guy named Larry Proctor who was able to get the USPTO to patent some yellow beans he picked up in Mexico. Yes. Really. You can read the patent (5,894,079) here. Thankfully, it was (finally) invalidated last year, but was around for about nine years -- during which time the patent holder basically was able to put a tax on imports of such beans to the US from Mexico"
  • A New Page: Can the Kindle really improve on the book? - "The Kindle DX ($489) doesn’t save newspapers; it diminishes and undercuts them--it kills their joy. It turns them into earnest but dispensable blogs."
  • Financial Times: Apple’s tablet due out in September - "As for the possibility of a cellular radio, FT is reporting that it’s slim to none which really makes us wonder what’s up with all of those Verizon/Apple tablet rumors. Separate device? Complete BS? With September just over a month away, information should start flowing pretty soon if the FT rumor has any credence."
  • Huascaran Restaurant, 3606 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA, 703-684-0494, right across from the Birchmere - "Its distinguishing feature is that they serve cuy – guinea pig – on a regular basis. Technically it is listed as a special, so call ahead, but usually they seem to have it. The sauce is delicious, especially on the potatoes. The key to eating the cuy is to chew on the fatty skin and the sauce and not obsess over getting all the meat."
  • Stay Tuned for Bluetooth on Your TV - "Bluetooth on the TV gives consumers the ability to use their cell phones as a remote control, connect wireless headsets to the TV, and stream music from an iPod or other MP3 player to their television or speakers attached to their TV, all without a wire."
  • Military pain-ray to be directed at troublesome geese instead of protestors - "Now, if you’re in the northwest like me, you know that Canadian geese, while great-looking birds and majestic creatures, are a huge pain in the ass. They bite kids, they crap all over the place, and they never stop honking. So while I normally don’t advocate shooting pain rays at animals, it’s better than just gassing them, which is the current practice."
  • Google Voice apps yanked from iTunes App Store - "The GV Mobile application had been available since April 24, 2009 which seems to lend credibility to some theories that AT&T’s unhappiness with a program that made using their service cheaper could have been behind this sudden approval change."
  • Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in Five Minutes - "Start with an original but memorable phrase. For this exercise, let's use these two sentences: I like to eat bagels at the airport and My first Cadillac was a real lemon so I bought a Toyota. The phrase can have something to do with your life or it can be a random collection of words--just make sure it's something you can remember. That's the key: Because a mnemonic is easy to remember, you don't have to write it down anywhere."
  • There is no WiFi allergy: newspapers misreport PR as science - "Newspapers fall for the PR campaign behind a new album, and credulously repeat a DJ's claims that he suffers health problems from WiFi exposure, a condition that doesn't appear to actually exist."
  • This Summer’s 5 Hottest Cell Phones
  • Print Isn't Dying, Serious Journalism Is - "Print media isn't hurting because it's an outdated business model, print media is hurting because it's boring. Blogs and Twitter are succeeding because their shit is clearly not retarded. And you know what? I love it. Intellectualism is dying, and the news is now anything we want it to be."
  • Ten Great Government Web Sites - "Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System offers public access to documents from all three branches of government through a single portal. 'It is a Web site of sweeping scope,' Jackson writes."

. . . . . . . . .

July 30, 2009 07:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Article. I. Section. 2.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription
Article. I.
Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.


A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

. . . . . . . . .

July 28, 2009 08:27 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/27/09

ht Gongol

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • United By Hate: The uses of anti-Semitism in Chávez’s Venezuela - "Instead of political parties, representative institutions, and, above all, ideologies, Chavismo manifests as a physical relationship between the people and Chávez, with, as Chávez himself describes, love as the potent glue connecting them.Thus during the recent campaign for the referendum to abolish presidential term limits, the widespread slogan, 'Amor con amor se paga' ('love must with love be repaid'), which captures the notion that Chávez’s love for the people comes with a corresponding obligation.
    . . .
    As hard as Chávez tries to reduce all opposition to an internal oligarchy backed by imperialism, his 'enemies' proliferate: workers’ unions, the student movement, the church, civil society organizations.
    . . .
    Chavista anti-Semitism is a symptom of the weakness of the regime itself. From its inception, Chávez’s government has been unable either to bend the inherited state apparatus fully to its will, or to abolish it and replace it with its own revolutionary design. The “Bolivarian Revolution” has thus developed within the constraints of certain democratic practices, where the entitlements of consumers, labor unions, government bureaucracies, community organizations, and property owners must be taken into account, if not necessarily respected.

    In classic Leninist theory, old regime structures and emerging revolutionary institutions were to coexist for a brief transitional period. In Chávez’s Venezuela, on the contrary, the duality has become endemic, compromising state accountability. Paramilitary groups, drug mafias, high crime rates, death squads, and corruption thrive.

    This dual structure is the context that frames and explains Chávez’s politics of distraction--his verbal antics and his reliance on unpredictable and spectacular policy innovations. The direct connection that Chávez has tried to forge with (some of) the people further undermines structures of administrative mediation. Opposition and dissatisfaction are therefore constant threats to the presidency itself. In such a scenario, a rhetoric that reduces all political friction to a single cause, to a single common enemy, is useful indeed. However, if history is any guide, ideologies of this sort have an elective affinity with dictatorship rather than democracy. When a regime relies on populism, military uniforms, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, it is time to worry."
  • Why Did No One Inform Us Of The Imminent Death Of The American Newspaper Industry? - "It appears that in America the very business of published news is in the midst of widespread atrophy, and now carries forward as does a sickly and aging man, coughing up blood and gasping for breath and bearing the pronounced stench of inevitable failure.

    Why did no one inform us of this? Great shame must now consume those who kept silent about the 87 percent decline in newspaper readership nationwide. Great shame must now consume those who did not open their lips before our dealings were done, and allowed the industrious and cherished Yu Wan Mei Group to sink itself like a granite stone. "
  • California Budget Resolution puts Band-Aid on Failing Dike - "For starters, the much ballyhooed budged is not even balanced. Borrowing money from local governments is fiscally unsound and possibly illegal.
    . . .
    Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the end result of months of political wrangling is a California budget bill that fails to address or even consider numerous structural defects. This is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a failing dike, hoping the problems go away on their own accord, something that will never happen."
  • Phony Checks At Top of Scam List - "Nearly 45% of people reporting being scammed were ripped off using a phony check scheme -- by far the largest type of fraud reported in the first six months of this year, according to the National Consumers League. The average dollar loss in that type of scam: $3,178."
  • Real Homes of Genius: Rancho Park and the zero down $775,000 2 Bedroom Home - Deconstructing the Westside of Los Angeles. The 310. Foreclosures moving up to Prime Markets. Notice of Defaults Second Highest Quarter on Record. - "There is something surreal in the air in California. With the warm summer weather and gorgeous sunsets it is hard to come to terms that the state has a $26 billion budget deficit that will be solved with massive cuts and borrowing. The state is issuing IOUs which should be a warning sign to most that the state isn’t flush with excess revenues. Yet for some reason, there is this belief that we will once be back to the bubble heyday. I was talking with a person trying to sell their home. They had pulled the home off the market and told me, 'I’m going to wait for one or two years when the market bounces back.' Bounce back to what? The manic easy credit induced bubble days? Those days are long gone. In fact, in this particular area the homes are littered with Alt-A and option ARM loans. How can you tell? You see massive additions to the home and remodeling projects that have costs upwards of $100,000 courtesy of a HELOC. This is not Beverly Hills but your mid-tier market.

    Today we’ll look at another Westside area in Rancho Park.
    . . .
    In each of these areas we are seeing the early signs of a foundation cracking at the edges like poorly applied makeup. Yet many in these areas believe in the housing bubble like some kind of underground cult. They know something you don’t. In their world, math doesn’t apply and supply and demand are words left to boring analysis. Who needs analysis when you have the almighty power of the granite counter-top? Who cares if the state has an 11.6 percent unemployment rate, the highest in modern BLS record keeping history? That is a minor footnote. Who cares that nearly 50 percent of option ARM loans sit in California anxiously waiting like ticking time bombs to level equity in mid to upper priced areas?
    . . .
    Today’s home is an example of someone who sold at the peak (and conversely someone who bought at the peak). Now who can really tell if they timed it perfectly or if the cosmos merely smiled upon the seller. This above 2 bedroom and 2 bath home sold for $775,000 in 2005, near the peak of the bubble. The last sale on this home was in 1978 for $90,000. Does anyone doubt the diluting power of the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury? The home as you can see does not look like a home that is worth three-quarters of a million dollars. It is 1,134 square feet. Yet these are the homes that are still sitting on the market.
    . . .
    The above is a quick analysis. We didn’t contribute any funds to a 401k or anything of that sort. No healthcare is in there either. So even with that, the PITI will eat up 64 percent of the net income of this household that pulls in $120,000 a year. Do you see why home prices still have a long way to go down?"
  • The Devil's In the Details - "Here is what you will discover if, unlike Congress, you actually read the Obamacare bill:
    . . .
    Pg 22 of the HC Bill mandates the Government will audit books of all employers that self insure. Can you imagine what that will do to small businesses?
    . . .
    Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families.
    . . .
    Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn’t have acceptable HC according to Government will be taxed 2.5% of income.
    . . .
    Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (the GOVERNMENT) will have access to ALL Americans’ finances and personal records."
  • How Reuters Should Be Responding To The AP's Suicide - "First of all, someone should sit [AP's CEO Tom] Curley down and explain to him fair use -- a concept of which he appears to be ignorant. This whole exercise seems to be an attempt to pretend that you can take away fair use rights via metadata. You can't. But, more importantly (from a business perspective) this shows a near total cluelessness on how Google works. Yes, Google built a multi-billion dollar business out of "keywords" but they did so not by forcing people to pay, but by adding value to people who did pay. That's the opposite of what Curley's trying to do. If you can't understand the difference between positive value and negative value, you should not be the CEO of a major organization. "
  • Are Crackdowns on Tattooed Officers Really Worth It? - "One unnamed Dallas officer disagrees with the upcoming policy. 'What are you going to do with that guy who is 300 pounds, and you put him in long sleeves in the heat of summer, and he drops out on you?' the officer said."
  • Four Questions About the Toyota Prius - "I have nothing against the Toyota Prius. It’s the car’s mystique that irks me. You know what I’m talking about: the whole 'Toyota Pious' thing. As someone who’s read rational reports from Prius-owning TTAC commentators, as a pistonhead who understands that there’s more to driving a Ferrari than beauty and performance, I swear I’m OK with the hybrid’s PC mantle. But the Prius’s high MPG numbers and green street cred tend to stifle the debate on some important points."
  • Amazon, Zappos and Buying What You Can’t Compete Against - "Amazon bought Zappos. At first I was a bit surprised. Like an aging celebrity going to the 'big theater in the sky' it is unexpected when you first hear about it - but upon reflection not surprising at all. It smacks of inevitability.
    . . .
    I believe culture is exactly what Jeff Bezos and Amazon were buying (after all it likely wasn’t fulfillment centers, logistics, inventory or even customers). Culture is the one asset Amazon couldn’t compete against."
  • “Filial responsibility” laws and nursing home bills - "A number of states have what are sometimes known as filial responsibility laws which obligate adult children to pay for their parents’ medical and nursing-home care."
  • The Sony PRS-505 reader: My initial review - "I still think my ideal device would be a Sony Reader sized iPod Touch. That would do the job for me in all but a few rare circumstances. But for now, I am happy to be a two-device girl and reserve the Sony for my more leisurely, reverent reading at home or when I have the time to really curl up for awhile. On days I travel lightly, I’m happy to keep reading on my iPod Touch too."

    100 Best Movie Lines in 200 Seconds

  • Living without money - "Daniel Suelo, who lives in a cave near Moab, Utah, has gone without using money since 2000."
  • Need a Connection? Sorry, This Is MyFi - "Readers, I need your thoughts on an etiquette issue associated with technology. Yesterday morning I was at the San Francisco airport finishing up a story while waiting for a flight. Inspired by my colleague James over at jkOnTheRun, I had my laptop and my Verizon MiFi out on the table.
    . . .
    A fellow traveler spied the device, knew what it was (only in San Francisco), and asked if he could piggyback on my connection to do some work. I politely said no, then packed up my stuff to change locations so he would think I had to leave and not that I was a complete jerk (James over at jkOTR would also say no). But was I?" No.
  • Burdened children - "Consumer Reports weighed backpacks at three New York City schools, reports the New York Times’ Well blog. Elementary students carried only about five pounds, but the weight soared in sixth grade."
  • Twitter's popularity makes it a bigger security target than ever - "What will be especially interesting to watch is how long it takes for something else to eclipse Twitter as the premier 'microblogging' service -- because Twitter won't stay on top forever. The concept of microblogging -- ultra-short updates of the user's preference, posted on the Internet -- is far too simple to be dominated exclusively by one service."
  • You know, this is… excuse me… a DAMN fine cup of coffee! - "Then I found it. In a thrift store of all places. The Bialetti Stove Top Expresso maker for $25. My goal was to find a convenient, relatively inexpensive coffee maker that, here goes, makes a strong and tasty cup of coffee. Now, the Bialetti line is for espresso making -- but, I find that it doesn’t pressurize to make true espresso. Oh, the debate can go on for hours…but here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter, because it makes a damn good cup of coffee
    . . .
    Now, the only 'issue' I ran into was how can I make this awesome coffee when away from home or at work?"
  • Living Your Best Life: It’s the One You Feed - "One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, 'My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is Good - It is peace, love, hope, humility, compassion, and faith.' 

The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, 'Which wolf wins?'

 To which the old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'"

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

July 27, 2009 08:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Floor Manager"

Floor Manager: Member steering legislation through floor debate and the amendment process, usually a committee or subcommittee chair or ranking minority member.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

July 25, 2009 03:27 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

The Constitution of the United States, Preamble, Article. I. Section. 1.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.
Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.


A free download of our Pocket Constitution is available on Scribd.

. . . . . . . . .

July 24, 2009 08:17 AM   Link    U.S. Constitution    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/24/09

Look Around Before Buying

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2009
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Moody's Commercial Real Estate Scorecard Accelerates To Downside - "Does anyone even remember the potty theories that the mortgage crisis would be limited to subprime and how commercial real estate was going to be the savior when residential real estate sank?
    . . .
    Flash forward to today. As long as businesses are not expanding there is no driver for jobs. And here's a hint: Businesses are not expanding to any significant degree because overcapacity is rampant."
  • Mortgage Fraud in Florida - "The Herald Tribune has a graphic on hot spots for flipping fraud in Florida, and some supporting documents."
  • Master’s pay bump is waste of money - "Paying teachers more for a master’s degree wastes money, conclude researchers Marguerite Roza and Raegen Miller in Separation of Degrees by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Center for American Progress."
  • They Don’t Call It TARP For Nothing - "You can’t see under it. While we might be a bit concerned about’s reporting practice for a bunch of ham, the problems with the TARP bailout program are so much worse."
  • WashingtonWatch Needs Help Crowdsourcing Earmarks - "Earmarks -- the pork barrel spending our elected officials dump into various bills to fund friendly projects for constituents -- got plenty of attention during last year's Presidential campaign, but since the campaign is over, it seems that many have forgotten about them. The House and Senate did recently update rules, requiring members to reveal earmark requests, but they've done so in different ways and different formats, and there's no central repository. WashingtonWatch is trying to change that."
  • Is the U.S. Senate Obsolete? - "Blessed by the Supreme Court and other judicial rulings, state governments have become administrative appendages of the federal government.

    In one area after another in the twentieth century -- matters of transportation, public health, land use control, education, wildlife management, etc. -- the federal government assumed powers that had traditionally been reserved to the states. States might still have an administrative role, but they are now working under a very tight federal leash.

    It is not the states but the U.S. Senate that is obsolete. When the United States was founded, the ratio of the largest state in population to the smallest (Virginia to Delaware) was 13 to 1. Now it is 71 to 1 (California to Wyoming). The U.S. Congress makes most of its decisions by forging compromises that bring together large enough coalitions of winners to pass a bill. Senators from Wyoming and other sparsely populated states sell their disproportionately large voting rights for disproportionately large federal moneys (relative to population). That is a main reason farm subsidies have been impossible to curb: states like North Dakota and South Dakota trade Senate votes for this abundant source of federal money."
  • Do superstition and eclipses matter for the stock market? - "eclipses are bad days for buying stocks."
  • How Will States Handle DIY Funerals? - "But this doesn't mean you can just bury Aunt Myrtle out by the tool shed. ... Even in the states that don't require a funeral director to be involved, you'll probably have to get a permit in order to bury someone in your back yard."
  • Why C-SPAN Isn't Showing the Health Care Talks - "President Obama is starting to reach that moment of truth, where the things that sounded good on the campaign trail don’t actually work out in reality. He seemed to promise that he wouldn’t use signing statements the way George W. Bush did -- to ignore provisions of bills he had signed into law -- but he hasn’t actually been able to avoid all signing statements, as House Democrats have noticed.

    And at Wednesday night’s press conference, Obama got called out for not televising the health care negotiations on C-SPAN, another campaign promise that probably sounded better to the communications strategists than to people who actually know how Congress works.
    . . .
    Well, yes, members of Congress could always open those meetings to C-SPAN. They could have done that before Obama took office. They don’t, though, and it appears that Obama won’t push them to do so. No one on Capitol Hill really expected him to, because when actual, sensitive discussions go on to cut deals on legislation, no one in Congress really wants to do that in front of the TV cameras.

    Still, what Obama talked about on the campaign trail -- many times, not just once -- was televising 'the negotiations, not just a forum at the White House."
  • The Productivity Challenge: Is Health Care as Bad as Education? - "So far at least, the evidence doesn’t seem to support the notion that the health care sector has suffered a productivity collapse quite like education. It still looks as though schooling, and only schooling, has gotten both worse and substantially more expensive since 1970."
  • Obama’s Path Not Taken - "In 1968 a divided country elected Nixon 'to bring us together' in the mistaken notion that he was a Reaganesque conservative rather than a vindictive partisan. So too forty years later, mutatis mutandis, the country wanted to go a notch left, and ended up instead with a European socialist nursed in the politics of Chicago--and like Nixon, unless he changes, doomed to implode."
  • Rep. Issa's report claims criminal enterprises within ACORN - "The report’s authors believe ACORN is purposely organized like a criminal enterprise. They describe ACORN as a 'shell game,' noting that it has operations in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia.

    There is 'systemic fraud' in ACORN made possible by its organizational structure, the report said:

    'Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.'"
  • Overcriminalization - "when an innocent person sits down in a quiet room to assess his options following a federal arrest and indictment, you soon learn that you’ll be broken financially if you choose to fight and go to trial. The pressure to plead guilty -- even if you are innocent -- is enormous. If we had a small and sensible criminal code where the rules were clear and objective, the costs of defending yourself from bogus (or trumped up) charges would be sharply reduced."
  • Blunt's Soviet spying 'a mistake' - "The memoirs of former spy Anthony Blunt reveal how he regarded passing British secrets to Communist Russia as the 'biggest mistake of my life'.
    . . .
    'What I did not realise at the time is that I was so naive politically that I was not justified in committing myself to any political action of this kind,' says Blunt.

    'The atmosphere in Cambridge was so intense, the enthusiasm for any anti-fascist activity was so great, that I made the biggest mistake of my life.'"
  • Apple Hedging Cellular Bets with a Tablet Through Verizon? - "I can’t think of a better way to kick AT&T’s network upgrades into the next gear--Apple merely suggesting the idea of partnering with Verizon on another data-hungry money maker just might do it."
  • The Neuroscience of McGriddles - "The 'standard' McGriddle consists of bacon, a brick of bright yellow egg and neon orange American cheese served between two small pancakes that have been injected with maple syrup (or some sort of maple simulacrum) so that they taste extremely sweet and yet aren't sticky to hold. The top of the griddle pancake is embossed with the McDonald's logo. Needless to say, the McGriddle is eerily delicious. If the human tongue has a secret password, then this sweet, salty and fatty breakfast sandwich is the code.
    . . .
    This is a troubling idea, since it reveals the very deep biological roots underlying the obesity epidemic. Let's imagine, for instance, that some genius invented a reduced calorie bacon product that tasted exactly like bacon, except it had 50 percent fewer calories. It would obviously be a great day for civilization. But this research suggests that such a pseudo-bacon product, even though it tasted identical to real bacon, would actually give us much less pleasure. Why? Because it made us less fat. Because energy is inherently delicious. Because we are programmed to enjoy calories." ht The Browser
  • Fast food mafia - "Fast food spokespersons as mob bosses."
  • Stuff Journalists Like - #53 The Onion - "While journalists may respect, and even admire other news sources, when it comes to The Onion every journalist deep down inside aspires to reach a pinnacle in their career where they can cover such earth-shattering stories as Bush being elected the President of Iraq, Obama’s plans to run for McCain’s senate seat in 2010 or about how the nation is ready to be lied to about the economy again."
  • The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack - "It’s clear that Twitter was completely unaware of how deeply they were affected as a company - when Williams said that most of the information wasn’t company related he believed it. It wasn’t until later that he realized just how much and what kind of information was taken. It included things like financial projections and executive meeting notes that contained highly confidential information."

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

July 24, 2009 08:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Advanced Federal Budget Process

Advanced Federal Budget Process

Learn how the federal budget process really works from faculty members with years of subject-matter expertise. Study important terminology and get tips to protect your budgetary interests.

We provide a comprehensive overview of current budget politics and the federal budgeting process. So you gain the awareness and guidance necessary to increase your chance of boosting funds and minimizing cuts. Understand the budget resolution process as well as the differences between authorizations and appropriations.

Learn how to recognize various budget documents so you can use them most effectively. Students also discover performance-based budgeting principles and issues and OMB's tools for program performance assessment. Finally, we explore professional online budget research tips.

August 3-4, 2009 at the DC Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW (12th and K Streets NW)

More information at

July 23, 2009 09:47 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony

Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony

Our experienced faculty explore all aspects of testimony preparation including research, persuasion and the proper structure of both written and oral testimony. Participants learn delivery and listening techniques, ways to deal with anxiety and best practice techniques for addressing both Q&A sessions and challenging situations. You learn how to prepare congressional testimony and how to testify before Congress.

July 30, 2009, at Hall of the States, 444 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC

More information here:

Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2009 09:37 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments

Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments

A hands-on how to program

This course helps anyone draft and revise bills and amendments, with lessons especially useful to those who prepare reports, legislation and other documents. In this course, instructors explain the role of the OMB, examining various formats and exploring ways to choose the most appropriate one for your issue.

July 29, 2009 at Hall of the States, 444 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC

More info at

Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2009 09:27 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Advanced Legislative Strategies

Advanced Legislative Strategies

This advanced three-day course builds on the skills of those who have already learned the legislative process and basic congressional operations. In this course, participants learn how to develop high-level strategies and tactics to help educate Congress and influence legislation.

August 5-7, 2009 at the Hall of the States, 444 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC

More information at

Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2009 09:07 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Companion Bills"

Companion Bills: Identical or similar bills introduced in both chambers.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

July 23, 2009 07:07 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

PBGC To Assume Delphi Pension Plans

This is a bailout in the making. And as Atrios commented this morning: "It wouldn't surprise me if the PBGC starts getting as hungry as the FDIC."
PBGC To Assume Delphi Pension Plans

Unfunded and underfunded pensions are going to become a very big problem in the near future. In August, we will publish "Underfunded Pensions, Pension Dumping, and Retirement Security: Pension Funds, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), Bailout Risks, Impact on the Federal Budget, and the Pension Protection Act of 2006."

July 22, 2009 05:17 PM   Link    Retirement Security    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/22/09

Homeopathic Medicine

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Law Schools’ Ward Churchill Moment - "Sonia Sotomayor’s shameless repudiation in the Senate of her past statements on gender, race, and judging is not just hypocritical, it is a lost opportunity."
  • UK National Portrait Gallery threatens Wikipedia over scans of its public domain art - "[Britain's National Portrait Gallery argues] that they can service the public -- whose taxes sustain them -- by extracting additional rents from photos instead of seeing to it that they are widely distributed. This is an increasingly common argument by public institutions, for example, the BBC jealously guards its additional DVD income and shies away from any kind of public archive that might undermine it, saying that the five percent of its budget derived from commercial operations is so important that the material funded with the other 95 percent of its income -- which comes directly from the public -- should be locked up."
  • Bailouts Could Hit $24 Trillion? - "We used to complain that George W. Bush had increased spending by ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in seven years. Who could have even imagined new government commitments of $24 trillion in mere months? These promises could make the implosion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac look like a lemonade stand closing."
  • States' budget pain eclipses last recession - "State tax revenues plunged nearly 12 percent in the first three months of 2009, the worst in the 46 years for which quarterly data are available, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government said in its latest state revenue report. The drop exceeds those of recent recessions, the report said."
  • New Yorkers, Give A Hoot! - "As the Metropolitan Transit Authority raises fares and reduces spending, it will undoubtedly be tempted to economize further by cutting the subway cleaning budget. The agency must avoid doing so at all costs. Nothing signals a city out of control more decisively than a filthy public-transit system. If trash starts piling up again on subway platforms and in subway cars, New Yorkers will know that the time to despair has arrived.

    But it need never come to that point. Subway litter is a problem that New Yorkers can solve for themselves simply by changing their ways. There is no possible excuse for leaving a half-drunk cup of coffee on a subway floor, dropping a candy wrapper on a platform or abandoning a newspaper on your seat as you exit a train. The execrable habit of dropping trash in public areas does not belong in a world-class, civilized city."
  • Nat’l Arbitration Forum to cease consumer work - "The Minnesota Attorney General’s office announced Sunday it reached a settlement with National Arbitration Forum, under which the St. Louis Park-based company will stop consumer credit arbitrations by July 24.

    The company was sued July 14 by Attorney General Lori Swanson, who charged the company with masking its extensive ties to the collection industry.

    National Arbitration Forum had represented itself to consumers facing debt disputes with creditors as an independent body that operated like an impartial court system. In fact, Swanson alleged, the company worked alongside creditors and against the interests of consumers."
  • Media groups seek end to "off the record" events in Washington
  • Daniel Levy's Defense of Human Rights Watch - "And note that this was a speech to an American audience. God knows what she said in Saudi Arabia. And God knows what she thinks privately, as opposed to what she reveals publicly. Somehow Levy hasn't persuaded me that this speech shows that Whitson doesn't single out Israel for criticism in the U.S., much less when she's on a fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia."

Optical Illusions and The Sensory Order

Location of 3D Image Processing in Brain Identified

  • Power Your Car With Pee - "A scientist at Ohio University has developed a catalyst capable of extracting hydrogen from urine. That’s right. Urine. Now you can fill one tank while draining another."
  • The 10 Most Dangerous Foods to Eat While Driving - "It should be said this is by no means scientific; it’s a rundown of things actuaries don’t think you ought to have in your hand (or mouth) when driving. That said, the list is more frightening than the repair bill we got when our Jag needed a transmission rebuild.

    1. Coffee. It’s hot. It can spill. That’s bad. That said, we’re guilty of this. So are you. Admit it."
  • Is pomegranate juice healthy? - "In your quest to increase the flavonoids in your diet, do you overexpose yourself to fructose? Remember: Fructose increases LDL cholesterol, apoprotein B, small LDL, triglycerides, and substantially increases deposition of visceral fat (fructose belly?). How about a slice of whole grain bread with that glass of pomegranate juice? The Heart Association says it's all low-fat!"
  • Dissolve the (White) People - "The most dominant and common tribal, race-obsessed, and vengeful racism in America today is found among black and Hispanic activists who make no bones about their anti-white agenda."

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 22, 2009 07:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Pocket Constitution - The Constitution at your fingertips

Pocket Constitution: The Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Amendments to the Constitution

The Constitution at your fingertips

The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and the Amendments to the Constitution, all in a handy pocket-sized booklet.

Single copies of this Pocket Constitution are available at no charge by sending a self-addressed stamped business (#10) envelope (SASBE) with first class postage for two (2) ounces to: TheCapitol.Net, Pocket Constitution, PO Box 25706, Alexandria, VA 22313-5706. Requests with insufficient postage will be returned or destroyed. Only 1 copy per request. No phone, fax, or email requests will be accepted for complimentary copies.

This Pocket Constitution is also available for bulk purchase, in multiples of 30 copies.

48 pages, 2009, 3.25 x 6.5 inches, 1.1 ounces each
ISBN 10: 1587331780 ISBN 13: 9781587331787

July 21, 2009 04:07 PM   Link    Publications    Comments (0)

July - August 2009 Legislative, Communication, and Media Training from TheCapitol.Net

Our latest email update:

If you don't have time to attend our live training, see our Capitol Learning Audio Courses.

TheCapitol.Net, Inc.
>> We help you understand how Washington and Congress work. TM
>> Non-partisan training and publications that show how Washington works. TM

July 21, 2009 06:57 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/20/09

Penn Jillette on Health Care Reform

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • A County's Contracts Go Missing - "Jefferson County, Alabama, is likely the nation's most financially troubled large local government. Alabama's most populous county (home to Birmingham) could go bankrupt because it can't pay the debt from its sewer system. Jefferson County also could go bankrupt for a completely unrelated reason: A judge threw out a tax that provided more than a quarter of its general fund. To get where it is today, Jefferson County has suffered from a lot of bad luck. But, you'd also struggle to find a worse-managed county."
  • My favorite things Alabama
  • Mish Should Ditch His Deflation Fears - "We who are advocates of sound, free-market money need to get our story straight. Are we predicting hyperinflation or massive deflation? Personally, I am much more worried about the former problem. Using a recent article by Mish, I hope to show that no one has made a convincing case for falling prices."
  • Liberty and Safety - "For a professor of law at one of the country's best law schools who was once the go-to guy in the Justice Department whenever the Bush White House needed legal cover for its truly lawless ventures outside the Constitution, John Yoo has revealed a breathtaking ignorance of American values, history, and jurisprudence."
  • Downtown Condo Tour - "If the builder offers these condos priced in the low-$300s per sf, and throws an all-out party for realtors, it’ll be a good sign that they get it about how tough the market is, and might have a chance to move some units. If they want $400/sf or higher, and are offering cheeze and crackers, it’ll be a long road home."
  • Dr. Krugman and Mr. Keynes - "Franklin Roosevelt (one of Mr. Keynes’s favorite presidents) tried a high wage policy 5 times. Each time the policy was adopted during periods of near zero interest rates and very rapid economic growth. And as I showed in this post, each time the policy brought promising recoveries from the Great Depression to a screeching halt. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to abandon good old supply and demand for a bizarre theory featuring upward slopping AD curves that was tried 5 times, and failed spectacularly each time."
  • Jim Cramer Generates 134.79% Return - "Jim Cramer is now an internet hack shill. His encyclopedic knowledge of company details is impressive, and he did run a successful hedge fund for a decade, though as a hedge fund his performance claims are unaudited and implausible (24% annual returns with 1 down quarter over 10 years). Yet for some strange reason, like many famous investors, he quickly realizes it is more profitable to sell advice than invest on it. If he had anything like the edge he claims (5% out performance?), it simply makes no sense to sell this advice as opposed to invest on it, especially when you have capital to start.

    So now the same company (CNBC) he used for his pump-and-dumps in the 1990s he uses to broadcast his highly popular show 'Mad Money', illustrating that the best salesman create willing dupes impervious to experience."
  • Guess who? - "His birth was marked by a double rainbow and a new star, he hit 11 holes-in-one in his first game of golf, finishing 38 under par, and throughout his life he has performed heroic feats impossible for mere mortals. When he shouts, 'huge storms happen'."
  • Why (Some) Docs Support the House Bill (So Far) - "The American College of Surgeons boasts that its executive committee voted unanimously to support the House Democrats’ bill because it would increase Medicare’s price controls so that over the next 10 years, Medicare would pay physicians $284 billion more than under current law. Reminds me of something New Democrat David Kendall wrote in 1994:
      Not surprisingly, some specialists welcome price controls -- which would lock in their high income -- and fear competition, which might depress it. For example, the American College of Surgeons has endorsed the single-payer approach, which would control prices at the current level and preserve surgeons’ relative value among physicians.
    Of course, to pay off the docs, the Democrats will have to rob even more people than they otherwise would."
  • Candidate Obama, President Obama: - "Candidate Obama, June 2008, in front of AIPAC: 'And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.' President Obama, July 2009: 'The United States views East Jerusalem as no different than an illegal West Bank outpost with regard to its demand for a freeze on settlement construction.'"
  • What's Next, Mr. President -- Cardigans? - "Barely six months into his presidency, Barack Obama seems to be driving south into that political speed trap known as Carter Country: a sad-sack landscape in which every major initiative meets not just with failure but with scorn from political allies and foes alike.
    . . .
    The key to understanding Obama's predicament is to realize that while he ran convincingly as a repudiation of Bush, he is in fact doubling down on his predecessor's big-government policies and perpetual crisis-mongering. From the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists to gays in the military to bailing out industries large and small, Obama has been little more than the keeper of the Bush flame. Indeed, it took the two of them to create the disaster that is the 2009 budget, racking up a deficit that has already crossed the historic $1 trillion mark with almost three months left in the fiscal year.
    . . .
    In the same way that Bush claimed to be cutting government even while increasing real spending by more than 70 percent, Obama seems to believe that saying one thing, while doing another, somehow makes it so. His first budget was titled 'A New Era of Fiscal Responsibility,' even as his own projections showed a decade's worth of historically high deficits. He vowed no new taxes on 95 percent of Americans, then jacked up cigarette taxes and indicated a willingness to consider new health-care taxes as part of his reform package. He said he didn't want to take over General Motors on the day that he took over General Motors.

    Such is the extent of Obama's magical realism that he can promise to post all bills on the Internet five days before signing them, serially break that promise and then, when announcing that he wouldn't even try anymore, have a spokesman present the move as yet another example of 'providing the American people more transparency in government.'
    . . .
    Bush learned the hard way that running government as a perpetual crisis machine leads to bad policy and public fatigue. Obama's insistence on taking advantage of a crisis to push through every item on the progressive checklist right now is threatening to complete that cycle within his first year.
    . . .
    That the administration is now spending millions of dollars to revamp its useless stimulus-tracking site is one more indication that, post-Bush, the White House still thinks of citizens as marks to be rolled."
  • Fed Independence: Too Important to Verify - "One reason to want an audit of the Fed is to establish whether or not it has actually been acting with sufficient independence. The question is already in the air. To attempt to impede an inquiry into the question by stressing the high value of independence is obviously to beg the question. Those who prize independence, if they really do, ought to be all the more keen on an inquiry. The importance of Congress asserting the authority to inquire is that, otherwise, the Fed can use the ideal of independence as cover for what may be in fact extremely political decisions."
  • America’s Best Schools - "DoDEA schools have an extremely impressive record. You can find public school districts that outperform DoDEA on the National Assessment of Educational Progress but they’re invariably districts with very favorable demographics." ht Marginal Revolution
  • Let's Try a Small Thought Experiment - "The stock market is up again and I’m outraged!! ... I can’t wait [for] Matt Taibbi take these frauds down!"
  • Why is Amazon insisting that its retail sellers break the law? - "It is simply unbelievable that an allegedly sophisticated technology company like Amazon can not find a way to allow its retailers to comply with the law."
  • Is a Saint the ‘patron saint’ of something because it is assumed from aspects of their life that they hold a special interest in it? - "Should you become a saint (and you will be a saint once you find yourself in Heaven) you can be the patron saint of people who have to deal with lawyers on a daily basis. You will be sympathetic to their plight with deep understanding."
  • Is Your Job Costing You A Fortune? Ten Great Ways to Save Money At Work - "Here are ten ways to cut back on your job-related spending. I’ve listed these in roughly the order that they apply to your working day:"
  • The Return of the Puppet Masters - "No word yet on whether [being infected with Toxoplasma gondii] increases the probability of being eaten by cats although I suppose it would have to."
  • The Power of Opaque Selling - "Priceline, Hotwire and vacation packages from offline and online travel agencies can offer prices that are dramatically lower than published rates without cannibalizing revenue because they are opaque selling channels. Opaque selling makes some part of a purchase non-transparent to the consumer (such as which hotel, what time the flight will leave, what products you are buying) so that the probability of revenue cannibalization is dramatically reduced."
  • Dear Dr. Boli: Can you discuss the differences between a hobo, tramp, and vagabond? A rather shabby, unshaven, and, shall we say, fragrant, gentleman has been sleeping in the backseat of my vehicle for the last fortnight. I should think that one should ascertain the proper nomenclature before notifying the authorities. Thank you in advance for your knowledge. --Sincerely, Dixon Herbstreit, Paw Paw, Mich.
  • Recharge Your Car's Air Conditioner - "If you have a car that isn't showroom fresh anymore, there's also a good chance it's lost a little of its air conditioning mojo. Get things icy cool again with this simple fix."
  • Ultrasound Used for Taxonomy of "Clicking" Languages - "Africa is home to a few languages that utilize clicking sounds, and linguists have had a problem finding a way to classify and identify them. Amanda Miller from Cornell University decided to try an innovative approach that uses a portable ultrasound to actually record the movement of the tongue."
  • Rediscovering the long walk - "Since I’ve been anchored to my home for a few months now, I had to find another way to express my need for travel. Here’s the solution I found: take several long walks within the week. By doing this, homebound vagabonds don’t have to feel trapped or confined when they are between trips. You just step outside your front door and keep walking - no plans necessary."
  • Autoblog Explains 90-Day Buick LaCrosse Inventory Over-Supply Promise

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 20, 2009 06:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Why is Amazon insisting that its retail sellers break the law? must provide its retail sellers with the means to collect state sales tax on sales that are shipped to addresses in the retailer's state.

It is simply unbelievable that an allegedly sophisticated technology company like Amazon can not find a way to allow its retailers to comply with the law.

Why is Amazon insisting that its retail sellers break the law?

Also see this:

Orwellian? - "I'm a big fan of the Amazon Kindle, and think that electronic book readers are the future. But behavior such as that described on David Pogue's New York Times blog can do much to alienate prospective readers"

We're not fans of the Kindle because Amazon does not make clear enough that you are not buying a Kindle book, you are only renting it. And as this situation makes clear, what Amazon gives (or "sells"), Amazon can take away. We prefer other ereaders, like the Sony 505, the Sony 700, and other ereaders.

Also see

Renting books on the Kindle - "I wish they'd just call these Kindle book transactions what they are, but I guess 'Rent now with 1-Click® until we decide to take it back from you or maybe not' doesn't fit neatly on a button."

July 19, 2009 02:37 PM   Link    Technology    Comments (0)

Amazon insists that its retail sellers not collect sales tax, busy fighting off attempts by many states to collect sales tax, is now insisting that retail sellers on Amazon who are required by their state's law to collect sales tax for shipments to buyers in their state not collect sales tax - or face suspension by Amazon.

Now, not only does Amazon not want to pay sales tax on orders, it is insisting that retail sellers on Amazon either 1) pay the sales tax themselves, or 2) break the law by not charging sales tax on sales shipped into the state where the retailer is located.

That's a bad call Amazon. It's one thing to fight state moves to make you collect sales tax. It's another thing completely when you encourage retailers on your site to ignore or break the law as a condition of doing business on your site.

Amazon refuses - or is unable - to provide the means for Amazon sellers to collect sales tax on And yet Amazon would have us believe that it uses cutting edge technology? Pathetic. Every online shopping cart out there can do this. Maybe Amazon should try MIVA.

July 18, 2009 07:27 PM   Link    Regulatory Process    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/17/09

Is Barbara Boxer the Orville Faubus of the Climate Committee?

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Manhattan Office Vacancy Rate Increases, Effective Rents off 44% - "Sharply lower rents, reduced leverage and much higher cap rates - Brian calls this the 'neutron bomb for RE equity'; destroys CRE investors, but leaves the buildings still standing. "
  • Senator Feinstein and the Commerce Clause - "Either Senator Feinstein misspoke, or she needs better staff. In the last decade, the Supreme Court has only struck down a single federal statute for exceeding the scope of the federal commerce clause power. In United States v. Morrison (2000), the Court invalidated portions of the Violence Against Women Act. Given her reference to 'protecting schools,' I assume she meant to include the Court's 1995 decision in United States v. Lopez, but that only increases the number of cases to two in which the Court found Congress exceeded the scope of its Commerce Clause power."
  • Sotomayor Displays a Lack of Deep Thinking - "Sonia Sotomayor is not a Cass Sunstein or Larry Tribe or Elana Kagan or (fellow circuit judge) Diane Wood. She is not a scholar or an ideologue. Her liberality is reflexive and warmed-over, a product of the post-modern educational environment that formed her in the 1970s--complete with ethnic activism--but not an intellectual edifice. This does not mean she isn’t a danger to liberty and the rule of law, or that her votes and opinions won’t harm the Constitution. But it does indicate that, for all her bluster about being a 'wise Latina,' she is little more than a left-leaning empty robe."
  • Sotomayor Again Misstates Fundamental Rights Doctrine - "This is both a grossly incorrect (and empty) understanding of the doctrine governing the protection of fundamental rights and an inaccurate statement of the precedents concerning the incorporation of the right to keep and bear arms into the Due Process Clause of the Constitution."
  • Feds Set to Pay Billions to Axed GM and Chrysler Dealers - "As our previous story on New GM’s dealer oath indicated, New Chrysler and Government Motors are fighting a desperate battle to head-off H.R. 2743. The bill--which has cleared committee and continues to gather steam amongst the axed dealers’ political allies-- would require the former bankrupts to take back thousands of terminated franchisees."
  • Federal sentence on former [PA State] senator prompts outcry - "The 55-month federal sentence imposed Tuesday on former Sen. Vincent Fumo, one of the most powerful and corrupt politicians of the past two decades, was a 'slap on the hand' and a 'travesty of justice,' according to observers from a wide range of backgrounds."
  • The War Against the Producers - "This recovery cannot work, other than a brief spurt that results from trillions in printed money, because we are rewarding unproductive areas of the economy (federal money for more wind farms, federal hurdles for pumping more known natural gas or nuclear power construction; more of the community-organizing model, less of the productive small business model) and punishing the engines of the economy.
    . . .
    Remember the logic: the poor Californian voter who works at Starbucks or Target is angry that the grandee social worker is unnecessary and grossly overpaid at $90,000 a year, with lush retirement and benefits, and so is told that if he does not raise taxes to over 10% income and 9% sales, then firemen, police, and water workers will quit/be laid off/furlow and so he will starve, be murdered, and have no sewage.

    That is the model here in California and that is the model we are soon to see in Washington: the government worker and those who receive his largess, are kings; those who pay for them, and who work in private enterprise for far less, are, well, less than fools.

    Whereas thousands are fleeing the natural paradise of California for the arid deserts of no-tax Nevada, there is no Nevada to the United States -- the last hope of an otherwise depressing planet."
  • Ancient global warming shows the limits of our knowledge: A new analysis of a past period of climate change suggests that there might be feedbacks in the climate system that we aren't aware of yet.
  • After the storm comes a hard climb - "Recovery will be slow and painful, with substantial danger of relapses."
  • Autism as Academic Paradigm - "t's a little tricky to talk or write about the autistics who may work in your institution. If you work at a college or university, there is a good chance you are interacting with people on the autism spectrum on a very regular basis. Maybe the reaction of the reader is to draw up a mental list of people in the workplace and start applying various stereotypes to them. Maybe you'll be on the lookout at the next dean's meeting for people who exhibit 'autistic traits' and then gossip about those perceptions to your friends.

    That's human nature, but I'm suggesting an alternative tack. Embrace individualism. Question your stereotypes. Maybe even look in the mirror. When you're done, it's likely that you'll see far more talent, in far more unorthodox varieties, than you expected."
  • $2 million and 7 years to fire a teacher - "Seven years after Los Angeles school officials fired a special education teacher for sexual harassment, a judge has approved the firing of Matthew Kim, reports the LA Times."
  • Seven hours of [Richard] Feynman lectures online
  • calibre ebook management
  • Why I purchased the Sony PRS-505 Reader - "Here’s to the hope to the publishing industry figures things out faster than RIAA’s member companies. In the meantime, I will be mostly pretending that the both the Sony and Amazon eBook stores with their proprietary DRM’ed books don’t exist…"
  • Hands on with Sony's new PRS-700 digital reader
  • Stanza
  • Save on Back-to-School Spending: College Edition - Do You Really Need That? A Mom & Son's Advice - "In the not-so-far future, in the unloading area of college dormitories all across America, cars and SUVs will be disgorging skyscrapers of stuff: bed-in-a-bags, floor lamps, microwaves and cube refrigerators, computer laptops in leather carrying cases and more than a few flat screen TV sets. But what do you really need? And how can you make college spending dollars stretch? Our mother and son blogging team have some advice."

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 17, 2009 07:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Movies From and For Depression / Recession

. . .. . .. . .

. . .. . .. . .

. . .. . .. . .

. . .. . .. . .

. . .. . .. . .

. . .. . .. . .

From Ch. 13, Other Resources, in "Recession, Depression, Insolvency, Bankruptcy, and Federal Bailouts," ISBN 10: 1587331594 ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-159-6 (forthcoming 2009 from TheCapitol.Net)

July 16, 2009 06:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/15/09

Bob Barr on Drug Reform

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • No diploma, no job, 3 kids - "The economy makes it worse for unskilled young men trying to support a family. But Bobby’s bad decisions -- goofing off in school, quitting at 16, trusting a girl with two kids to stay on the pill -- have dug him in a deep hole. He’s not ready to be a family man."
  • The Path to Corporate Welfare is Paved with Essential Legislation - "When corporations see that politicians plan to get their pound of flesh, they maneuver to give half a pound in exchange for a deal where their competitors give two."
  • Ask the Best and Brightest: New GM, Same Old Quality Issues?
  • So Much for Academic Freedom: - "What a bizarre and disturbing comment to come from the AAUP president, whose professional obligation is to be a spokesperson for academic freedom! He's suggesting that if a professor disagrees with the 'international consensus' on a particular narrow issue within a much broader field, that professor should be deemed incompetent to teach in that field."
  • Bureaucrat U - "College tuition increased by 6.6% a year over the past decade, a rate that is approximately 2.4 times that of inflation. One big cause: the bloating of university bureaucracies. Between 1997 and 2007 the administrative and support staffs at colleges expanded by 4.7% a year, double the rate of enrollment growth. The burgeoning army of college bureaucrats defends this extraordinary growth as necessary to provide consumer-oriented students with an expanded breadth of noninstructional services. Yet this obfuscates the underlying mission of colleges to produce and disseminate knowledge. It is time for higher education to go on a diet."
  • Housing Update - How Far To The Bottom? - "The Case-Shiller charts suggest that the worst may finally be over. However, so far all we can say is that things are getting worse at a decreasing pace. This is not the same as getting better. Indeed it may take 2 years or more to cross the zero-line in the second Case-Shiller chart. That would be consistent with a bottom in 2011.

    Thus I see no reason to switch from my long-held estimate of a 2011-2012 timeframe for a bottom. Furthermore, even once housing does bottom, do not expect a V shaped recovery. Housing prices are likely to remain weak especially in real (inflation adjusted) terms for another decade."
  • WHAT! The CIA Was Trying to Kill bin Laden? - "A.) Tell me how firing hellfires from Predators is more ethical or legal than sending a team to kill or capture a single person.

    B.) Doesn't this sort of smack of Sandi Berger-esque national security policy? We know from the 9-11 commission report that Berger got cold feet when he had bin Laden in his sights for a proxy raid in Afghanistan because he was afraid of collateral damage and blowback. Now some of the same national security policy minds are back in the driver's seat so we cancel a program to kill bad guys using CIA assets. Great idea folks."
  • Binding arbitration could result in "nationalization of small businesses," president says - "But if a law like card check were to pass, would probably begin to outsource as much work as possible."
  • Wind farms will be a monument to an age when our leaders collectively went off their heads - "Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity.

    And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.
    . . .
    The Government has now shovelled so much money in hidden subsidies into the pockets of the turbine companies that the 'wind bonanza', promoted on a host of fraudulent claims, has become one of the greatest scams of our age."
  • 5 Auto Atrocities To Throw Down a Black Hole - "We drew up a list of cars that should be wiped from the pages of automotive history. Feel free to set us straight or make any additions-- just know that whatever goes in will never come out."

    We agree with the multiple stunned comments that the AMC Pacer didn't make the top 5.
  • Which words make you wince?
  • Bricks in iPod boxes: the retail employee perspective: The tech world is full of mysteries. We try to answer one of the least pressing: why do rocks, bricks, and even meat end up in product boxes on a semiregular basis?
  • Vacationers, watch out with Wi-Fi - "The latest trend for the in hacker is what has become known as 'vacation hacking.' It works by the hacker setting up fake Wi-Fi hot spots where they can lure in unsuspecting travelers. Some favorite locations are airports and hotels. Vacationers think everything is safe, especially if it is set up to somehow include the name of the place they are currently in while trying to connect. Little do they realize that instead, they are logging on to phony networks, and handing over all the information on their laptops.
    . . .
    Some advice from Symantec comes in five simple steps. While it may seem like common sense to some, it still bears repeating." [more]
  • EcoBlast Rechargable Air Horn Is Like A Super Soaker For Sound - "ike the Super Soaker, the EcoBlast uses a plastic tank that can be refilled, with air in this case, from a bike pump or air compressor using a standard valve."
  • Gnome Sweet Gnome - "They're garden gnomes, and love 'em or hate 'em they're a fixture of the suburban landscape. The question is, WHY??"
  • Best home improvement projects under $1,000
  • Use The "Egyptian Method" to Sleep Well on a Hot Night - "Wet a sheet or bath towel that is large enough to cover you with cool or cold water, and wring it or run it through the spin cycle on a washing machine until the sheet is quite damp but not dripping wet. Place the dry towel or sheet on your bed underneath your body and use the wet sheet as your blanket. The damp blanket will keep you cool." Sleep like an Egyptian....
  • Sort Email by Multiple Columns in Outlook - "All you need to do is hold down the Shift key while clicking on the column header for one column, and continue to hold the key down while you click on another column."

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 15, 2009 07:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/13/09

Goldman Sachs Loses Grip on Its Doomsday Machine: Jonathan Weil

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Cyber Can Kill SAMs - "[That's right. All those arguments about the F-22 being absolutely necessary because of its unrivalled effectiveness may be a lot less important than the plane's supporters thought. On top of that, one industry expert at the Paris Air Show said that the F-35 has a requirement that it be able to take out triple digit SAMs while the F-22 never did. That's not to say the F-22 isn't capable of it. It just means the plane wasn't designed to do it.]"
  • The Empire Strikes Back - Kohn Warns Congress on Meddling in Fed's Affairs - "Our hero, Ron 'Skywalker' Paul, has managed to gather sufficient support to overthrow the Evil Empire widely known as the Fed.

    In a brazen attempt to beat back our hero, the Empire has taken its case directly to Congress, seeking more power to rape and pillage the populace under cloak of secrecy.

    The Washington Post picks up the story in Sith Lord Kohn warns Congress on meddling in the Empire's affairs."
  • Detroit Public School System Ponders Bankruptcy - "the pension time bomb has finally gone off"
  • California IOUs to be shunned by big banks after today - "People holding California state IOUs -- including taxpayers, vendors and local governments -- will soon have a tougher time redeeming them, as most major banks are standing firm on a vow not to cash the vouchers after today [July 10, 2009]."
  • California Division of Forestry Not Paying Bills, Vendors Demand Cash or Credit Cards Upfront - "Regardless of how California balances its budget, if it does not include pension reform, the state will be back at crisis level within a couple years, if not sooner."
  • How California’s Schools Brought the State to its Financial Knees - "California is in budgetary hell because of a massive collapse in the productivity of its public schools. If the public schools had just maintained the productivity level they enjoyed in 1974-75, taxpayers would now be saving $36 billion annually. That’s $10 billion more than the deficit the state is currently facing."
  • The University of Phoenix's Roots - "So, the man [John Sperling] whose fabulously successful [University of Phoenix] is anathema to academics was an academic himself, one whose favorite memories are of his life as a graduate student at Berkeley, where he and his friends hung out in cafes and argued about 'theory, fact, and fiction.' But academia spurned Sperling once he decided that average people should have a chance at an education, too. He had to enter the marketplace in order to achieve that."
  • Weekly wrap: Bullet point dramatizes crisis - "How bad is the state budget crisis? So bad that Mississippi is limiting state troopers to one box of ammunition per year. ... In California, epicenter of the budget mess, the strain on state resources is likely to mean sharply higher state college fees and fewer spaces for students. ... Tiny Vermont is the exception to budget woes buffeting most of the states--so far."
  • The City’s Finances, Part 1: Life in Taxopolis: After the financial meltdown, Mayor Bloomberg’s “luxury product” has become unaffordable. - "Rather than using its surpluses to return to the tax-cutting of the late 1990s, however, the city let its swelling budget soak them up, creating a much larger budget baseline. During Bloomberg’s first six years in office, from 2002 through fiscal year 2007, the city’s budget increased by nearly a quarter after inflation. New York now spends about twice as much per capita as the average of the nation’s ten largest cities.

    Fueling the growth were huge increases in education outlays, now a hefty $20,000 per pupil--more than in many tony suburban districts. Employee costs have also risen rapidly and unnecessarily. The average annual compensation for a city worker, including salary and benefits, is an eye-popping $106,000. Since 2000, the city’s per-worker pension costs have increased more than sevenfold, from about $2,500 annually to north of $20,000. Rich contract deals negotiated between the unions and city hall, as well as porcine benefits packages bestowed by state legislators in Albany, have pushed these costs way beyond what similar workers earn in the private sector and way beyond what is necessary to attract qualified workers to city government.

    Now the bill is coming due, and the crippled finance industry won’t be paying it.

    The bottom line is that since New York no longer has a fabulously wealthy business community as its customer base, it cannot remain a luxury product. It will need to appeal to less well-heeled businesses--if not quite the equivalent of Wal-Mart shoppers, then perhaps something like the moderate-income customers who patronize that New York landmark, Macy’s."
  • Even Less Sunlight Before Signing - "Since the White House announced its new sunlight policy, nine additional pieces of legislation have been signed into law by the President and yet, as of yesterday, not one had been posted on the White House web site."
  • Scott Moore: Bailout Art
  • Where Have All the Gas Pumpers Gone? - "Does anyone really think a kid with a paper route should earn a wage high enough to support a family?

    The only way to increase wages is to increase worker productivity. If wages could be raised simply by government mandate, we could set the minimum wage at $100 per hour and solve all problems. It should be clear that, at that level, most of the population would lose their jobs, and the remaining labor would be so expensive that prices for goods and services would skyrocket. That’s the exact burden the minimum wage places on our poor and low-skilled workers, and ultimately every American consumer.

    Since our leaders cannot even grasp this simple economic concept, how can we expect them to deal with the more complicated problems that currently confront us?"
  • Brown Manure, Not Green Shoots - "With the current rate of job losses, it is very clear that the unemployment rate could reach 10% by later this summer--around August or September--and will be closer to 10.5%, if not 11%, by year-end. I expect the unemployment rate is going to peak at around 11% at some point in 2010, well above historical standards for even severe recessions.
    . . .
    Also, concerns about unsustainable budget deficits are high and are going to remain high, with growth anemic and unemployment rising. These deficits are already pushing long-term interest rates higher as investors worry about medium- to long-term stability. If these budget deficits are going to continue to be monetized, eventually, toward the end of next year, you are going to have a sharp increase in expected inflation--after three years of deflationary pressures--that's going to push interest rates even higher."
  • Westside Los Angeles: The Ultimate Prime and Stagnant Real Estate Market. Comparing March and May 2009 Data. Gear up for the Foreclosure Storm. $17.5 Million Foreclosures happen when you let WaMu and BofA Play Together. Digging into the Housing Shade of Palms. - "I find it hard to believe that there is still a sizable contingent of anti-math folks that believe this entire global credit mess was created by subprime borrowers. They think that poor people in the inner city somehow led to $13.87 trillion in household wealth being wiped off the balance sheet. Try telling these people that some $1 trillion in subprime loans does not equal $13.87 trillion in wealth destruction. The reality is much of this is a distraction from their puppet masters on Wall Street and the true crony-banking machine. Now moving back to the Westside you can rest assured the likes of WaMu, Countrywide, and IndyMac made plenty of maximum leverage loans that will end horribly in the next 6 to 18 months. ... As you can see from the tiny number of sales in the Westside that there are still people buying in the Westside who still believe in the pagan god of real estate. Yet many will be stunned when the Alt-A and option ARM wave strikes. I have never seen such a massive pent up wave of problem real estate and this current pattern is very similar to what occurred in 2007 with the subprime bust."
  • Beware William Tell's Second Arrow - "Last year, Washington tried to impose a $780 million fine on the Swiss for their refusal to enforce U.S. tax laws within their own country.

    Next week, the Regime intends to press its claims in court -- that is, in its own courts -- in the hope of forcing the Swiss to turn over confidential information on some 52,000 Americans who have private accounts protected by Swiss law.

    To their eternal credit, and the benefit of those who cherish freedom everywhere, the Swiss are responding to Washington's imperial bullying with the equivalent of William Tell's laughter, augmented by an upraised middle digit.

    Earlier this year, the Swiss People's Party (SVP) began a campaign urging their fellow citizens and elected leaders to resist Washington's imperial blackmail. After the Swiss government capitulated in late February to Washington's demand to pay a $780 million fine and disgorge the names of Americans who had opened private banking accounts, the SVP -- the nation's largest political party, which combines traditionalist populism with enticing hints of libertarianism -- angrily demanded the repatriation of Swiss gold stored in the Swiss National Bank in the U.S.

    The party also demanded a ban on the sale of U.S. commercial and government bonds in Switzerland (a sound proposal, if only because the sale of fraudulent financial instruments is a crime), an end to the Swiss government's role as a diplomatic intermediary between Washington and various national governments disinclined to act as U.S. colonies, and a refusal by Geneva to help Washington free itself from the tar-baby it created at Gitmo by taking in detainees freed from the detention facility.

    Not everything about the SVP is entirely commendable, but in mounting this pressure campaign it was acting squarely in the noble tradition of William Tell and Henri Guisan."
  • "Asia's Rise Is Unstoppable." - "Given Asia's relatively low per capita income, its growth rate will indeed outpace the West's for the foreseeable future. But the region faces enormous demographic hurdles in the decades ahead. More than 20 percent of Asians will be elderly by 2050. Aging is a principal cause of Japan's stagnation. China's elderly population will soar in the middle of the next decade. Its savings rate will fall while healthcare and pension costs explode. India is a lone exception to these trends-any one of which could help stall the region's growth."
  • Priming the Pump for $20/Gal. Gas: Interview with Chris Steiner - "I think the future of renewable energies is obviously very bright, and very much linked to the price of gas. Obviously everyone was feeling really good about these when gas was $4.50 across the country. Interest as far as venture capitalists has ebbed, but it'll pick up again. I think we all realize that the price of gas won't stay at $3 forever."
  • A Sponsorship Scandal at The Post - "The Washington Post's ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record 'salons' was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions. ... Today, Atlantic Media Company, owner of the Atlantic and the National Journal, hosts sponsored, off-the-record gatherings similar to what The Post was proposing."
  • Pope Obama? Hardly. - "Once an expression of and aid to unity in the face of a dominant protestant culture, Catholicism is now the dominant denomination and cultural mobility has eliminated much of the cultural significance. Arguments about what defines Catholics beyond the ecclesiastical are increasingly hard to make." We enjoyed this comment: It's interesting to me how many American Catholics, like Gov. Townsend, seem to believe they speak for other Catholics. If you don't like what the Catholic Church teaches, then you're not a Catholic - you're a Protestant.
  • The Tyranny of Mark Levin’s “Liberty” - "What the Old Right criticized as liberal, Wilsonian globalism is now considered mainstream conservatism, as defined by the most popular pundits who speak for the Right. Non-interventionists, and foreign-policy realists, who oppose utopian efforts to impose democracy militarily are often denounced as 'liberals.'"
  • The Student Loan Crisis - "Middle and high income students have access to highly subsidized loans, which has increased their ability to pay ever-increasing tuition fees. In turn, this has incentivized colleges to spend exorbitant amounts of money to improve their 'prestige' in order to attract these students and the revenues that follow."
  • Why The New Webcasting Rates Are A Death Sentence For Webcasters
  • Goodbye, fructose - "Add to this the data that show that fructose increases uric acid (that causes gout and may act as a coronary risk factor), induces leptin resistance, causes metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), and increases appetite, and it is clear that fructose is yet another common food additive that, along with wheat, is likely a big part of the reason Americans are fat and diabetic."
  • If A Diet Is Bad For The Teeth It Is Also Bad For The Body - "The correlations between dental diseases and systemic disease, he adds, provide indirect support for those researchers who have suggested that Alzheimer's disease and pancreatic cancer are due to an abnormal blood glucose metabolism.

    The hypotheses on dental diseases as a marker for the diseases of civilization were postulated back in the mid-20th century by two physicians: Thomas Cleave and John Yudkin. Tragically, their work, although supported by epidemiological evidence, became largely forgotten, Hujoel notes. This is unfortunate, he adds, because dental diseases really may be the most noticeable and rapid warning sign to an individual that something is going awry with his or her diet."
  • 30+ Useful Websites You Probably Didn't Know About
  • Skadden's Robert Bennett to Investigate Marion Barry Contracts

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 13, 2009 06:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Report/Reported"

Report/Reported: Formal submission of a measure by a committee to its parent chamber.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

July 11, 2009 06:37 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/10/09

Guaranteed to Cure Nostalgia for the Early 80s

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Activists on both the left and the right spotlight a broken federal government - "Millions of Americans perceive that the federal government is broken and might not be fixable. They view centralized power as heavy-handed, intrusive—and yet useless when it’s called upon for help, as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. ... Their solution is radical local activism to restore power to citizens at the state level. They aim to make state laws that counteract federal ones. They hope to preserve local or regional cultures against homogenization. They’re all aiming for their idea of freedom--although often their concepts of freedom are diverse, to say the least. Watch them: They may be the vanguard of a much larger movement of frustrated citizens who feel helpless to achieve their aims at the federal level but who aren’t willing to accept the status quo."
  • Rocket Lawyer Bankruptcy Center - "The Rocket Lawyer Bankruptcy Center has the resources you need to get through the Bankruptcy process." ht Robert Ambrogi's LawSites
  • The statin-free life - "--Eliminate wheat, cornstarch, and sugars to reduce small LDL
    --Add iodine
    --Supplement 6000 units of an oil-based vitamin D preparation
    --Take fish oil to provide at least 1800 mg EPA + DHA per day
    --Take Armour Thyroid 1 grain per day"
  • Urban Farming - "The mind-blowing productivity growth in agriculture over the 20th century stands as one of the great achievements of human history. It involved immense strides in pest and weed control, farm machinery, bioengineering, and economies of scale. All this has made it possible to feed a rapidly increasing population with decreasing amounts of land and labor."
  • The Case for Power-to-Weight Graduated Drivers’ Licenses - "When you can buy a 400 horsepower motor the size of a sewing machine and put it in a street Honda Civic it’s time to evaluate the guy behind the wheel. When Ford dealers hand the keys to a 500 hp Mustang to a twenty-something enthusiasts with a basic down payment, it’s time to ask if he should have a license proving the basic ability to handle the horses."
  • What is it that Adam and Doug are always telling me? - "If someone in a 30+ years, only gets 30 or less hits, they haven't done much to advance our science; just as if someone teaches for 30+ years and doesn't have a bevy of students who have become economists due to exposure to that persons teaching, then that person isn't much of a teacher."
  • DC Police Chief Says It's 'Cowardly' To Monitor Speed Traps With Your iPhone - "Apparently, real men prefer ignorance about where the police are hiding to give them tickets for driving a couple miles per hour over the speed limit."
  • Love in Truth: My third thoughts about the encyclical [Caritas in Veritate] - "The major thing I noticed [in reading Caritas in Veritate] was not just that the Pope pokes at pretty much all the dominant ideologies of our day (which he does). It’s that the encyclical’s really very non-prescriptive. Again and again, there are criticisms of existing stuff along with praises of what’s good about them, and then there are suggestions about what kind of spiritual framework and practical principles need to be applied to situations. ... Just as in this pope’s first encyclical, Caritas Deus Est, political and other concrete implementations are firmly decreed to be the business of the lay faithful. ... The second thing I noticed was that pretty much everyone either read this document in shards, paying attention only to what they most agreed or disagreed with (the 'blah blah blah GINGER' principle); or even worse, they only read what other people said about it, and got so disgusted that they announced they didn’t have to read anything more."

How to Send Back Restaurant Food

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 10, 2009 06:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/8/09

USO Girl Training- TSO v. Uncle J

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • A Sunni-Israeli Alliance? - "According to the Times of London, Saudi Arabia has quietly given Israel permission to use its airspace on the way to Iranian nuclear weapons facilities. "
  • The right side of history ... and of the energy lobbyists, too - "The Waxman-Markey climate-change bill that passed the House two weeks back had the strong backing of some major players in the energy industry. Duke Energy, AES, and General Electric are the leading proponents of a cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gas emissions, but power company Entergy has also long been a player in the greenhouse-gas allowance lobbying game.

    In 2008, Entergy petitioned the Supreme Court to declare CO2--the stuff you and I (and even Entergy's attorneys) exhale--a pollutant. The company is a leading nuclear power provider, and it also has already invested in carbon credits. A cap-and-trade scheme means profits for Entergy."
  • Loan Mod Frauds - "The scamsters are thriving ..."
  • The Politicians and the Founders - "Maybe each week there should be three national radio broadcasts: one from the incumbent president, one from the other big-government party, and one reflecting the views of the Founders."
  • Obama WH; we don’t need no stinking Senate! - "[E]verything Obama does is hasty, rushed and performed under a big, flashing red sign that screams, 'emergency; no time to discuss, no time to read, no time for bothersome procedure…just do what I want, and trust me, we’ll be fine…three minutes to critical mass…'"
  • Sweeten it, but don’t read it - "After passing the cap and trade bill in rush, we are beginning to see what was included in the last hours prior to the vote. According to the Washington Times, the final 300 page amendment to the 1,200 page bill appears to have been filled with sweeteners for wavering congressmen. ... Of course, one of the biggest problems is that we were given under 24 hours to read these 300 pages of obscure language. So, we are brought reporting after the bill is passed teasing out the actual contents, which appear to include vote-attracting sweeteners. No one could have realistically known what was in the bill, and inserted for whom, before the vote took place."
  • Big Banks Don't Want California's IOUs - "A group of the biggest U.S. banks said they would stop accepting California's IOUs on Friday, adding pressure on the state to close its $26.3 billion annual budget gap.
    . . .
    State officials said they were disappointed by the banks' decision. Garin Casaleggio, a spokesman for [California State Controller John] Chiang, said: 'We don't want anybody to suffer who can't redeem them when they need cash.'" Uh, then California ought to pay with ... cash, not IOUs. Sheesh.
  • How Many Jobs Does a Playground Make? - "[Norfolk, VA] wanted to spend $50,000 in stimulus funds on a playground, but the feds said that really wouldn't do much for job creation. ... [So the City Council] moved the same amount of money out of the drainage project and into swings and slides. 'In other words, you take money out of your left pocket and put it in your right pocket,' Vice Mayor Curtis Milteer Sr. said."
  • Kmiec Chosen for Ambassador to Malta
  • Endangered at the mall - "In the baby boom era, when I grew up, it was normal for young children to play together outside without any supervision. We had no malls, but we’d walk to the park or explore the ravines when we were six, seven or eight years old."
  • Data Dump Day at TTAC: They Think It’s All Over - "one wonders who’s going to get the goodies as Chrysler continues to tank, and GM follows suit."
  • Ruins of the Second Gilded Age - Photo essay of "the physical evidence of the real estate bust in the United States."
  • Buyer's Remorse Hits Vegas Project - "You have 1,500 condo buyers right now who wish they'd never put this thing into contract and most of them have some kind of relationship with MGM Mirage," said one buyer who put a $600,000 deposit on a $3 million unit, and would like to get his deposit back. "It's tricky for MGM Mirage. You make your best customers angry."
  • This Recession Isn't Over: Now for the Hard Part - "... the hardest part of the cycle is likely ahead of us."
  • CNBC Interview with Bryan Marsal, CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings - "This applies to all kinds of debt - extend and pretend - that sounds like most of the residential loan modifications! But eventually many of those same loans will reach the 'send' phase." (As in, "Send in the keys.")
  • Markets in everything: convert the atheist, on Turkish TV
  • State of the Airline Industry Chart Compares Airline Service Fees
  • The Big To-Do Over To Do's - "My needs are relatively simple: I want to follow the general principles outlined by David Allen in GTD and have all my lists be: a) searchable, b) cross-platform, c) mobile and d) private. ... I haven't been able to find one that sticks. But now I think I have finally landed on an outstanding combo: Taskpaper, pictured above. This is a Mac app but it also has an nearly identical Windows cousin called ToDoPaper. Both are super. A web service powered by Google Appspot is coming soon to as is an iPhone app."
  • Desperate-to-leave LinkedIn users rename accounts "delete delete delete" (see the comments)
  • Prepare Yourself For iPod Video - "If Apple added cameras to its line of iPods, there would be another 3+million of them hitting the market per month, and the low end of the digital video camera market could be crushed."
  • Creatine: Not just for muscle heads - "A study of creatine supplementation in men, average age 70 years, demonstrated that, when creatine was combined with strength training, it increased muscle mass 250% better than placebo (7.26 lb muscle vs 2.86 lb muscle), along with improved leg strength and endurance. The same group also demonstrated 3.2% increased bone density (measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) after 12 weeks in participants taking creatine with strength training, while the control (no strength training, no creatine) group decreased by 1.0%."
  • The Luckiest Boy at Morse Pool - "What made him lucky in my mind was the mom he got, who showed such exquisite patience in the face of monumental challenges. This mom also made me see up close, for the first time, how the parents of the severely disabled face extreme isolation from other parents."

Bambi Alert! - Tips to avoid/survive deer accidents

  • Getting in Shape Can Help Your [Law] Practice - "Since starting our Wii program, I have noticed a positive change in our staff. Everyone seems to have a little more spring in their step. I myself have a little more energy coming into work. I am not as tired at the end of the day and find myself getting to the office earlier. And I feel like I'm getting more work done."
  • The blue and the green - "Via my evil twin Richard Wiseman comes one of the best color optical illusions I have ever seen." ht Kottke
  • Using Simple Technology isn't Easy - "As I tried to explain to them that the technology they utilized, though pretty basic, wasn't easier to use for someone unfamiliar with it, I struggled to find a good example. Today, I finally found one in the unlikeliest of places: an article by a teenager who gave up his iPod for a week and replaced it with his father's 25-year-old Sony Walkman."
  • CH Hanson 24″ Precision Ball Level - "Someone should have thought of this years ago. The aviation-style ball, which replaces a bubble vial, is both accurate and simple to read. Because the level is ball-style it can measure in two directions at once, just like the one in a plane. Plus, it measures angles in degrees or pitches."
  • After Half-Century On the Hill, Beloved Trover Shop Comes To the Last Chapter - "According to Andy Shuman, business at the store took a turn for the worse two years ago when a fire at a neighboring bar, the Capitol Lounge, caused a half-million dollars in damage to the Trover card shop, which was just three doors from the bookstore. The losses were so extensive they closed the card shop and combined its merchandise with the bookstore. Now, with the economy in a slump and online booksellers chipping away at the customer base, Shuman says the store's time is up."
  • Disposable urinal: Travel John - "I’ve used these for several years, and they’re great when the need to urinate calls but no facilities are accessible. I've found them useful while flying in small planes that don’t have a toilet, and also when I didn’t want to leave my tent in the middle of a rainy night to relieve myself. ... Keep some in your glove compartment. You won’t be sorry."
  • Shock the Jocks - "A better than decent case can be made that the NCAA is a more invidious anti-competitive cartel than, say, the Standard Oil Trust of John D. Rockefeller, the Tobacco Trust of James B. Duke, the alleged (although in my judgment fictitious) Microsoft monopoly, etc. The NCAA monitors a system of exploiting thousands of workers (e.g., athletes); it has promoted a decline in emphasis on academics; its rules and regulations leads to graft, corruption and a decline in respect for higher education, etc., etc. I don't even like the NCAA telling teams that their mascots or nicknames are inappropriate. In short, the NCAA, by and large, sucks."
  • Answers to Common Excuses not to Travel Full-Time
  • Screen on the Green [DC] Sked Released
  • Young children 'should be taught evolution so they don't mistake Fred Flintstone for scientific fact'

. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

Bookmark and Share

July 8, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Strike"

Strike: Amendment to delete a portion of a measure or an amendment.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

July 7, 2009 06:07 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/6/09

This week I found this amazing video of a marriage proposal that you must see to believe. I suspect the groom-to-be works in the Disney World park.....

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Not Much News Yet: Media sources are hoping to get the jump on the foreclosure tsunami. - "Sales of foreclosed houses soared last year as investors and first-time home buyers swarmed over what were considered bargain houses. This year it’s been unusually quiet, says Jerry Abbott, a broker and co-owner of Grupe Real Estate in Stockton [CA]. That doesn’t make sense, he said, because he sees many houses in foreclosure in the city.

    But just recently, said the 37-year real estate veteran, there’s been a surge of requests for so-called broker price opinions, or appraisals that lenders often ask brokers to provide just before they put a foreclosed property on the market."
  • LA Times: 'Another wave of foreclosures' - "Hoocoodanode? And just wait for the Option ARM recast wave ... "
  • Homeownership's Downsides - "My hunch is it's time for new hybrid forms of housing tenure which mix the benefits of ownership with the flexibility of renting."
  • 3 Benefits of Living in a Small Space - "A very common question we’re asked is if we ever wish we had selected a larger living space. Our quick answer is, no - our space is perfect and well considered for our needs. At only 80 square feet of living space ...."
  • Billy Mays, Free Market Hero - "Smug journalists just cannot accept capitalism. Mays sold 'as seen on TV' products like OxiClean detergent and Mighty Putty; products that he believed in and backed with a money-back guarantee. And people apparently loved the products, since Mays sold an estimated billion dollars worth of goods."
  • Hezbollah on Steroids - "Smart weapons, once the near monopoly of the U.S. military, are now proliferating to non-state actors. That was the real shock of Israel’s 2006 Lebanon war when Hezbollah roughly handled the Israeli military. That 'proliferation of precision' will greatly accelerate in coming years as munitions become more precise, with increased range, easier to use and more widely available to irregular warriors, according to CSBA."
  • That's My Kid Too - "The real science is obvious and overwhelming. Vaccines don't cause Autism. Mercury in vaccines didn't cause Autism. Jenny McCarthy's son was vaccinated after mercury was removed from the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Autism rates haven't dropped as a result of mercury being removed from vaccines. Autism rates are the same in vaccinated and non-vaccinated kids. There are big studies around the world showing this to be true. They are the best science we have and science is our only hope in solving this. Chip Denman said it best, (Forgive my paraphrasing) 'Science is not a smorgasbord. You don't pick and choose what you want to believe. You sit down and take what you're served.' Autism rates won't be changed by Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy but there will be dead and injured people as a result of their anti-vaccine campaign. ... Oddly enough, there IS a conspiracy. The vaccine scare is a known and well documented scam started by people wanting to make money off the growing Autism panic."
  • 15 of the Most Spectacular Uses for LEDs
  • China Looks to Undermine U.S. Power, With ‘Assassin’s Mace’ - "Could China wipe out an American military advantage with a simple black box? Joshua Cooper Ramo’s thought-provoking book The Age of the Unthinkable challenges all kinds of conventional thinking about everything from venture capital to military strategy. One section caught my eye in particular, about how the Chinese might neutralize American air superiority, using a type of weapon known an 'Assassin’s Mace.'"
  • Our Chrysalis Stage - "Our America–nationalizing the auto industry, socializing the health care system, allowing state, local, and federal income and payroll tax to confiscate 65-70% of the wealthy’s income, gravitating to a state-run, Ministry of Information media in which ideology governs access, news dissemination and appraisal, and even the banalities of press conference questioning–is now to be not that different from previously demonized states.

    We are no longer 'exceptional' (Obama’s words, not mine), and merely a postnational state with no particular global interests other than “world peace” and “global fairness”. In other words, there is now no real reason why an Iran or Venezuela should have any reason to be angry with the United States. Our President sympathizes with much of their past hurts and sensitivities; he has voiced similar criticism of the past global role of the United States; and America will now find its new role as one with those it used to isolate and bully. (The Europeans used to despise sanctimonious, moralistic and non-interventionist Jimmy Carter; but they can’t really get mad at Obama. He’s no Georgia peanut farmer, with drawl, Bible, and Billy, but a metrosexual, Europeanized one of them who will drive them absolutely crazy as he sermonizes and pontificates.)
    . . .
    I think after Afghanistan, NATO will be analogous to the International Criminal Court--A Hague-like institution that will let the Euros deal with the Russians or the Islamists on their own, while issuing all sorts of moral “grave concern” and 'extremely troubled' communiqués.
    . . .
    The problem with all this is that Obama’s sleek Boeing jet, his neat helicopters, his Chicago mansion, his children’s upscale prep schools, the flying in of chefs or flying in for a night in New York, are all predicated on a bountiful, profit-minded capitalist system of production, in which entrepreneurs take enormous risks in search of sizable personal profits, and are left alone to profit within government’s wide parameters of fair play. A state-of-the-art military protects the global capitalist order, ensuring both free sea lanes and communications, but also plays the theoretically ultimate enforcer of fair play on things as diverse as copy-write laws to patent protection. Tamper with all that? I don’t know at what point the proverbial goose and golden egg rule applies, but it is somewhere-as we see in the messes elsewhere in most of the world.

    Obama has surrounded himself with legions of ‘fixers.’ Bright men and women who have Ivy League law degrees, business school credentials, PhDs in the social sciences, and academic pedigrees in science, humanities, and engineering. Quite impressive, these Platonic Guardians of the soon to be perfect state. But most of their careers in finance, government, business, and academia have been well paid jobs critiquing, administering, regulating, nuancing, writing about, and hectoring those who create things–builders, developers, industrialists, farmers, truckers, transportation execs, retailers, lenders and investors."
  • Thanks! - "In an exceptionally magnanimous gesture, North Korea today fired a series of rockets into the sea in celebration of 233 years of freedom and democracy. This extraordinary display of fireworks in recognition of America’s Independence Day would have ordinarily been unthinkable for an envious regime that maintains its tenuous claim to legitimacy only through vicious suppression of a brutalized populace, but such was the regime’s unmasked appreciation of a superior system that they did so willingly, even eagerly! ... So right back at you, Huge-Headed Impotent Dictator Guy: You’re a Real American hero!"
  • Palin: it’s the education, stupid - "Back in September I wrote that some of the Palin-hatred we’ve seen represents a class war. ... Liberals like to think of themselves as friends of the downtrodden masses, the uneducated and the working classes. But they prefer this to be a form of noblesse oblige--they are the enlightened ones reaching down in their great magnanimity to help the unfortunates, who will then be ever-grateful for the largesse. ... Sarah Palin shatters those rules. Her true bottom-up (as opposed to fake top-down) populist appeal, her whiteness, and her rejection of the veneer of academic elitism that she could take on if only she changed her speech patterns, have driven them wild from the start. It’s only been compounded by the fact that she is a member of a certain group usually seen as oppressed: women. ... Later on I got my own big degrees, several of them, from a few highfalutin schools to boot. But I encountered a surprisingly wide variety there in terms of brainpower. There was book learning and then there was smart, and the one didn’t always have that much to do with the other, although sometimes it did. I also found myself thinking that the highly educated could be dangerous in their hubris if their schooling wasn’t accompanied by a deep thoughtfulness, because it could instead be accompanied by arrogance and the idea that because they had that elite education they knew far more than they really did."
  • “An assembly-line fraud factory” - "A jury convicted three California lawyers and two interpreters who prosecutors said had organized massive fraud in the filing of asylum claims, generating false documents and coaching hundreds of clients to make false claims of persecution in India, Romania, and other countries so as to obtain the right to remain in this country."
  • Evernote- the Best Productivity App on the Planet - "One of the big strengths of Evernote is that it is cloud based which means my notes live up in the cloud. This is important as it means they are available no matter what device I am using in a given moment, they are just there. More importantly for me it also means that I can capture bits of information for future reference no matter what I am doing or what I am using at the time. The many ways to get information grabbed and saved is simply game-changing for my work."
  • The Perfect Mobile Phone Is (Nearly) Here - "The iPhone may have begun the smartphone's transition into a full-fledged computer, but lots needs to change before we get there. Here's my wish list."

. . . . . . . . .

July 6, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/3/09

It’s Just Cool: Tractor Square Dance

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • How To Choose the Best Rewards Credit Card - "But for general all-purpose points earning, I still favor the Starwood American Express card for the flexibility of its points and the large number of points transfer partners the Starwood Preferred Guest program has."
  • A Bank Run Teaches the 'Plain People' About the Risks of Modernity: Some Amish Lived It Up Until Hard Times Hit; Dinners Out and LED-Appointed Carriages - "In Amish country, a bank run is about as familiar as a Hummer or a flat-screen TV."
  • Watching Government Opacity Melt Away, “Right before our Eyes!”
  • Deadbeat: Not Just A Circumstance, A State of Mind - "But one pattern emerges when you add up all the redefaults per quarter and compare them to the total number of loan modifications: When you take deadbeats and give them a free opportunity to get out of contractual obligations they willingly signed before God and country, a fairly reliable majority of them -- and often a fillibuster-proof 60+ percent -- end up deadbeating again.
    . . .
    So if these borrowers really are honest citizens who just need help getting back on their feet, the percentage of redefaulting loans should be going down, not up. That's not the case, because they are not honest citizens. They're deadbeats, and it's time to stop pretending they can be anything else."
  • Got 60? Who Cares? - "Al Franken's victory brings Democrats' number in the Senate to 60, and has everyone thinking about how they can now defeat potential Republican filibusters against cap-and-trade and health reform. But why go through all the trouble of getting 60 when you can do just as much with 50?

    The process of budget reconciliation is extremely complicated. The part that most Washington-watchers understand is that bills passed under it cannot be filibustered in the Senate -- they require only a simple majority. The purpose of reconciliation, supposedly, is to adjust federal spending and revenue levels. But this is nearly always a pretext.

    The original idea behind reconciliation in the 1970s was to use it as a tool for balancing the budget. As the process has evolved and been corrupted, budget reconciliation has instead become a tool for making substantive policy changes under the guise of revenue and spending changes, so as to avoid having to get 60 votes in the Senate."
  • A Conversation with Robert D. Kaplan - "We discussed Colombo’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign there against the Tamil Tigers, what China has been up to while no one was looking, Russia’s revived imperial project in its 'near abroad,' the geopolitcal ramifications of a more liberal Iran, Israel’s difficulty in fighting effective counterinsurgency warfare, and our new man-hunting General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan."
  • The Krugman Blues
  • Personal Bankruptcy Filings increase 40% in June (YoY) - "The American Bankruptcy Institute is predicting over 1.4 million new bankruptcies by year end - I'll definitely take the over!"
  • New Evidence on the Foreclosure Crisis: Zero money down, not subprime loans, led to the mortgage meltdown. - "What is really behind the mushrooming rate of mortgage foreclosures since 2007? The evidence from a huge national database containing millions of individual loans strongly suggests that the single most important factor is whether the homeowner has negative equity in a house -- that is, the balance of the mortgage is greater than the value of the house. This means that most government policies being discussed to remedy woes in the housing market are misdirected.

    Many policy makers and ordinary people blame the rise of foreclosures squarely on subprime mortgage lenders who presumably misled borrowers into taking out complex loans at low initial interest rates. Those hapless individuals were then supposedly unable to make the higher monthly payments when their mortgage rates reset upwards.

    But the focus on subprimes ignores the widely available industry facts (reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association) that 51% of all foreclosed homes had prime loans, not subprime, and that the foreclosure rate for prime loans grew by 488% compared to a growth rate of 200% for subprime foreclosures."
  • Diesels grab 81% of Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen sales in June - "Among the 8,431 Jetta sedans sold in June, 40 percent were also diesel powered."
  • Was the Declaration of Independence an Example of Secession, Revolution, or Both? - [T]he Declaration of Independence was both a revolution and a secession."
  • How to get Comcast Deals for your Cable Bill - "A couple of the price drops are only for a few months, so I’ll be closer to 50% in about 6 months, but I may call in again and see if there are any other specials. Bottom line here is Comcast will offer you deals on service, but only if you take the time to call and ask."

. . . . . . . . .

July 3, 2009 06:47 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

"Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar"

Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said today she was canceling plans for an exclusive "salon" at her home where for as much as $250,000, the Post offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record access to "those powerful few" -- Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff."

"Washington Post cancels lobbyist event amid uproar," by Mike Allen and Michael Calderone, Politico, July 3, 2009

"Astonishing" doesn't begin to do justice to describing this. Bet the WaPo supports "transparency", too. Also sounds like Katharine Weymouth and other WaPo execs need to register as lobbyists....

. . . . . . . . .

July 3, 2009 10:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

For Sale: Asus eee PC 1000, 10-Inch Netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 40 GB Solid State Drive, 20 GB Eee Storage, Linux, 6 Cell Battery) Fine Ebony

For Sale: Asus eee PC 1000, 10-Inch Netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 40 GB Solid State Drive, 20 GB Eee Storage, Linux, 6 Cell Battery) Fine Ebony (select "Used")

Under warranty until March 2010. Used once for less than 1 hour in a research class as an initial test of our WiFi Classroom. Due to lack of familiarity and comfort by some students with the Linux interface, we have switched to an XP-based model.

Black case. Has barely visible black number (does not show up in a photograph) on black foam sleeve. Includes 6 cell eee battery, eee sleeve, eee AC adapter, Linux recovery DVD, and will ship in eee PC box. Will ship UPS Ground, no PO Boxes. No sales to VA shipping address without paying VA sales tax (5%).

Specifications (from Amazon)

Product Description (from Amazon)

Reviews at

What's in the Box: ASUS Eee PC 1000, AC adapter, printed operating instructions, Linux recovery DVD.

Buy on Amazon for $357 + shipping and handling (click "Used" or "Best Price"):

July 2, 2009 04:07 PM   Link    For Sale    Comments (0)

Preemption: Obama Signals a Change in Federal Rulemaking

In a memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies, President Obama stated his administration’s policy “that preemption of State law by executive departments and agencies should be undertaken only with full consideration of the legitimate prerogatives of the States and with a sufficient legal basis for preemption.” He instructed the heads of departments and agencies to review regulations issued within the past 10 years that are intended to preempt State law in order to determine whether the statements or provisions are justified under applicable legal principles governing preemption. The department or agency head should consider amending the regulation if preemption cannot be justified.

Federal Register: May 22, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 98)]
[Presidential Documents]
[Page 24693-24694]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

To learn more about the federal rulemaking process see:

Regulatory Research Resources

July 2, 2009 06:17 AM   Link    Agencies ~   Regulatory Process    Comments (0)

Judge Sonia Sotomayor: Analysis of Selected Opinions

In May 2009, Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court. Several weeks later, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to fill his seat. To fulfill its constitutional "advice and consent" function, the Senate will consider Judge Sotomayor’s extensive record -- compiled from years as a lawyer, prosecutor, district court judge, and appellate court judge -- to better understand her legal approaches and judicial philosophy.

This report provides an analysis of selected opinions authored by Judge Sotomayor during her tenure as a judge on the Second Circuit. As a group, the opinions belie easy categorization along any ideological spectrum. However, it is possible to draw some conclusions regarding Judge Sotomayor’s judicial approach, both within some specific issue areas and in general.

Perhaps the most consistent characteristic of Judge Sotomayor’s approach as an appellate judge has been an adherence to the doctrine of stare decisis (i.e., the upholding of past judicial precedents). Other characteristics appear to include what many would describe as a careful application of particular facts at issue in a case and a dislike for situations in which the court might be seen as overstepping its judicial role.

It is difficult to determine the extent to which Judge Sotomayor’s style as a judge on the Second Circuit would predict her style should she become a Supreme Court justice. However, as has been the case historically with other nominees, some of her approaches may be enduring characteristics.

Discussions of the selected opinions are grouped according to various topics of legal significance. Throughout the report, hyperlinks are provided to opinions authored by Judge Sotomayor.

For the complete report, "Judge Sonia Sotomayor: Analysis of Selected Opinions," click here.

July 1, 2009 01:17 PM   Link    Publications    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 7/1/09

Support for Federal Reserve Audit Increasing

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Alt-A and Option ARM Economic Disaster Update: California Solution? Workout 3,430 Alt-A loans in March. Good Job. All we have is an additional 643,000 Alt-A Loans in the State. At this Rate it will take us 15 years to Modify or Alter all Alt-A Loans. - "The Alt-A and Option ARM tsunami still looms large casting a dark shadow over the state of California housing. This is on top of the reality that we are now talking about issuing IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression. I’m not sure if this is what many had in mind when Bernanke started talking about his imaginary friend Mr. Green Shoot. There is definitely no green shoots in California.
    . . .
    As you can see, the Alt-A and option ARM tsunami is still heading this way. Many of these programs being devised are betting (not explicitly) that another housing rebound is just minutes away. This is utter nonsense. Say you bought a $500,000 home that is now worth $250,000. Does a 40-year mortgage and a lower interest rate sound appealing to you? You are simply a renter. By definition you won’t be building up any equity given that one of the options in the CFPA is negative amortization. And do you really think that home will go up again? If you wanted to sell you would find yourself in the same position as today. Either a generous short-sale is approved or you walk away. And for those that think real estate can’t stay down for a long time I offer you Japan:"
  • House Bias: The economic consequences of subsidizing homeownership (4-page pdf) - "Ask most people in America today whether buying a home is better than renting one, and you’ll likely get a response that equates renting with stuffing money down a garbage disposal. The idea of homeownership today is not one that simply evokes the comfort or pride of living in a place of one’s own. Instead, it’s become part of a common investment philosophy.

    But if you ask Edmund Phelps, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from Columbia University, he’ll proudly declare that he doesn’t own a home. And to him, that’s not a bad thing. 'It used to be that the business of America was business,' said Phelps in August 2008 to Bloomberg News. 'Now the business of America is homeownership.' In fact, many economists will tell you that the American love affair with homeownership has some consequences that you won’t normally hear discussed." ht Marginal Revolution
  • June Economic Summary in Graphs - "Here is a collection of real estate and economic graphs for data released in June ... New Home sales have fallen off a cliff."
  • Boom Time: Personal Bankruptcies in SoCal
  • ‘The Police Became a Mob’ - "The attack was so violent that it couldn’t be ignored. Several officers were prosecuted, but the blue wall of silence kicked in and several officers committed perjury to shield their criminal acts. Judge Easterbrook writes, 'The distance between civilization and barbarity, and the time needed to pass from one state to the other, is depressingly short.'"
  • Congress Votes to Change the Weather - "As you undoubtedly know by now, Congress voted on Friday to change the weather--or more accurately, the climate. The idea that a government of one country could appreciably change the world's climate over the next 40 years is the ultimate hubris. Legislators may think they are God, but they're not."
  • Want A Job? Learn SharePoint, Says Gary Blatt - from the comments: "typical government inept bureaucratic money-wasting decision, to pay for microsoft software that doesn't work, everyone hates, and they can't find anyone who wants to program in it or use it. and this parasite has managed to infiltrate the host _totally_... government 2.0 is broken; suggest immediate upgrade to 2.2. -bowerbird"
  • Stretching The Truth - "I said it in the film, I’ve said it in interviews, and I’ll say it again here: the obesity epidemic has been exaggerated to suit the goals of the weight-loss industry. If you check the story, you’ll notice it explains that Skinny Chef lost weight on the Cambridge Diet -- one of those stupid, semi-starvation, liquid diets.

    If this woman truly did consider herself overweight and chose to slim down by eliminating the sugar and starch from her diet, I’d be all for it, because she’d be getting healthier in the process. But too many people focus exclusively on weight. They become so desperate to shrink themselves, they go on semi-starvation diets that end up wrecking their metabolisms -- or worse, they let a surgeon cut apart their stomachs and bypass a crucial section of the digestive system."
  • Arizona Group Forces Red Light Ticket Refund
  • From the Speaker of the California Assembly
  • Thoughts on a Schizophrenic Society - "Our greatest icons-Jefferson, JFK, FDR-at times conducted private affairs in a manner that this society would have sensationalized, a society that in fact is far more tawdry and without the decorum of the past. ... popular culture idolizes certain postmodern traits and then turns Victorian when their tab comes due. ... In the old days-sin being ageless and inherent in human nature-FDR simply kept his private life private, and most in the media complied. In a better age, the fact that he died near someone not his spouse was incidental and went unreported. Most in theory might object to the President’s adultery, but in fact did not care to know-inasmuch as they did not know the full details of the Roosevelt marriage and did not demand to find out. We live in a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde world-stifling prudery without the resulting prim and proper behavior; free love without the accompanying absence of shame and social stricture."
  • In which regards are autistics more rational?
  • Study concludes Wikipedians are a bunch of grumpy introverts - "A study making the rounds suggests that Wikipedians may feel at home online, in part because they're grumpy introverts. But the results need to be interpreted very cautiously, as they were based on only 69 contributors from a single nation, a tiny drop in the Wikipedian ocean."
  • Toyota iQ Gets A Scion Badge And Aston Martin Grille - "The iQ has over the past year been touted with a bunch of paltry engines, ranging from a fire-breathing 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder to a smoking hot 1.4-liter diesel four-banger. Now, you could fit something as big as a 1.6 liter engine in there, according to Chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima, but we’re not ones to, um, encourage such things. The iQ will also feature a mileage-enhancing stop-start system, and should get around a highly impressive 56 mpg. And bringing it in as a Scion makes sense for the American market."
  • Homegrown Evolution: Urban self-sufficiency

. . . . . . . . . . . .

July 1, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)