Patterico's Pontifications


Happy Cesar Chavez’s Birthday!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:53 am

He is risen, and the occasion is memorialized at Google (via Twitchy):

Turns out they’ve almost never run doodles on Easter, and the one time they did, it was with a secular theme. It also appears that they don’t have Christmas doodles (or, to be fair, Ramadan or Kwanzaa or Hannukkah doodles either). At Christmastime you get the inoffensive, politically correct “Happy Holidays” themes. Other religious holidays or festivals, like Passover, are largely snubbed. As you browse through their collection, you see a lot of “Bangladesh Independence Day” or “Joseph von Eichendorff’s 225th Birthday” type themes, but almost nothing for religious holidays. Unless the holiday has been completely secularized, like St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day. Those are apparently kosher, er, I mean, acceptable.

So enjoy this very special day: Cesar Chavez’s birthday. And please. Don’t over-commercialize the day. Remember to take a moment to stop, bow your head, and have a moment of prayer for the continued vitality of the United Farm Workers.

Cyprus Raid on Deposits Waaaaaaaay Bolder Then Initially Predicted

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 am

Anyone who flies has experienced it. The voice comes over the loudspeaker and says your flight has been delayed 20 minutes. Well, that’s annoying. But you have two hours to make your connection, so you’ll be OK. A little while later, it turns out the delay is 40 minutes. Still no problem. After another wait, it turns out the delay will be an hour. Then, after another long wait, they say the flight has been delayed an hour and a half. Now that connection is looking pretty tight. But don’t fret! You won’t have to worry about rushing to make the connection . . . because, you see, as the new boarding time approaches, there is another announcement: It turns out the flight is delayed three hours and you have no chance of making it.

But this news always drips out, one announcement after another — and you always suspect that they knew all along that the delay would be three hours.

Which brings us to Cyprus. First, depositors were told that their accounts would be hit for 7 percent — 10 percent for the rich folks. Then — whoops! — it turned out it wasn’t 10 percent, but 30 percent. Whoops, we meant 40 percent.

What was next? Half?

HALF! (Language and content warning.)

(That clip is profane, misogynistic, and horrible. I don’t even know why I posted it.)

No, Cyprus is not planning to take half. No, no, no. Nothing of the sort.

More like . . . 60 percent.

Major depositors in Cyprus’s biggest bank will lose around 60 percent of savings over 100,000 euros, its central bank confirmed on Saturday, sharpening the terms of a bailout that has shaken European banks and saved the island from bankruptcy.

Initial signs that big depositors in Bank of Cyprus would take a hit of 30 to 40 percent – the first time the euro zone has made bank customers contribute to a bailout – had already unnerved investors in European lenders this week.

But the official decree published on Saturday confirmed a Reuters report a day earlier that the bank would give depositors shares worth just 37.5 percent of savings over 100,000 euros. The rest of such holdings might never be paid back.

See, they did it again! Did we say 60 percent? We meant 62.5 percent! In the space of just two paragraphs, depositors lost another 2 1/2 percent.

Officials are assuring the public that this is a “one off” — it certainly couldn’t happen anywhere else.

Oh hey, by the way? Your taxes went up a little at the beginning of the year, but Obama says you have to pay just a little more.

UPDATE: Thanks to Stashiu3 for the link.

Racist Supreme Court Justice Compares Homosexuality to Incest

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:02 am

A brilliant post by John Nolte, who notes that Ben Carson was accused of “comparing” gays to NAMBLA scum and practitioners of bestiality — when all he did was make a slippery slope argument. Guess who else made a similar argument this past week? Sonia Sotomayor, questioning Ted Olson in the Prop. 8 case:

Mr. Olson, the bottom line that you’re being asked — and — and it is one that I’m interested in the answer: If you say that marriage is a fundamental right, what State restrictions could ever exist? Meaning, what State restrictions with respect to the number of people, with respect to — that could get married — the incest laws, the mother and the child, assuming they are of age — I can — I can accept that the State has probably an overbearing interest on — on protecting the a child until they’re of age to marry, but what’s left?



North Texas D.A. And His Wife Murdered

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:51 am

North Texas prosecutor is murdered outside a courthouse in January. Now his boss and his wife are executed at their home:

Kaufman County’s district attorney and his wife were found slain Saturday, raising fears that their deaths may be part of a plot that included the death of one of the county’s assistant district attorneys in January.

Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh and other officials confirmed that Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, had been shot at their home near Forney.

Their deaths followed the Jan. 31 slaying of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.

The murders have to be connected. They have to be.

It sounds like it could all be retaliation by the Aryan Brotherhood. I hope they solve it.


Obama Kids Living It Up While Regular Kids Can’t See the White House — and News Outlets Are Scrubbing the Information

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:10 pm

Alex Marlow at reports:

A local news affiliate in Idaho reported that the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama, are on a Spring Break ski trip in Sun Valley, Idaho. The story quickly spread across the Internet when picked up by the highly trafficked Drudge Report website.

But hours later, the story disappeared from the KMVT website without an update or correction. Breitbart News confirmed that the White House requested that the post be removed.

Obama’s kids were just in the Bahamas. Must be nice.

And the White House’s justification for asking that this news be scrubbed? Alex publishes this statement from a White House spokeshole:

From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest.

Awww. It’s not newsworthy, eh? I beg to differ, and I applaud Alex for breaking the story of how the cowardly Idaho news outlet caved. Elizabeth Price Foley expresses my feelings well:

While I certainly understand the concerns about security, presumably the Secret Service is accompanying these girls wherever they go. If these media reports are true and the girls have been to both luxurious and expensive locations during their spring break, this would be legitimately newsworthy at a time when the President has halted White House tours and other basic government functions, supposedly due to sequestration-based budget cuts. The public deserves to know whether the Obamas are being hypocritical and/or squandering tax dollars during a time of economic austerity.


UPDATE: That’s Elizabeth Price Foley and not Glenn Reynolds. Fixed. Thanks to Ipso Fatso.

Ben Carson Apologizes — For WHAT?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:39 pm

David Zurawik at the Baltimore Sun:

Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famed Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, apologized Friday for his “choice of words” and use of examples in discussing gay marriage on Fox News earlier in the week.

During Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday, when asked about the matter before the Supreme Court, Carson said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”

The comparison of gays to members of the North American Boy/Man Love Association and those who engage in bestiality set off a backlash of criticism in the media, online and on campus.

That’s a comparison?

I don’t think that’s a comparison, and I don’t care who says it is — be they David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun, or Snooki, or Hitler.

(Did I just say that a journalist and an annoying reality show star are homicidal dictators who killed millions?)

It’s sad that Ben Carson is apologizing for nothing. I’d rather have him quote the classic Breitbart line: “Apologize? For WHAT?”

If someone wants to apologize for their choice of words, the Alaskan Congressman who called migrant workers “wetbacks” is a decent candidate. Ben Carson? Not so much.

Planned Parenthood Representative Fights Bill to Save Babies Born Alive During a Botched Abortion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:02 pm

The slippery slope at work, ladies and gentlemen. The position of this woman appears to be: We love abortions so much, if the baby is born alive, the decision whether the baby should be saved should be a private decision for the mom and the doctor that was trying to kill the kid seconds before. In other words, she’s approving murder:

Watch all the way to the end to see her objecting to a provision that would require a doctor to drive the born-alive baby to a hospital — because, after all, what if it’s a long drive?

You think I’m making that up? Watch the video.

John Podhoretz: Obama Is So Very Serious

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:31 am

John Podhoretz has a column that says Barack Obama is a Serious Man doing Serious Work and also he is Serious:

Barack Obama is a serious man. . . . The truth is that Barack Obama and his liberal followers have been doing very serious work over the past four years, and the same cannot be said, alas, of far too many people who oppose them.

. . . .

The notion that Obama is a dangerous extremist helps him, because it makes him seem reasonable and his critics foolish. It also helps those who peddle it, because it makes them notorious and helps them sell their wares. But it has done perhaps irreparable harm to the central conservative cause of the present moment—making the case that Obama’s social-democratic statism is setting the United States on a course for disaster and that his anti-exceptionalist foreign policy is setting the world on a course for nihilistic chaos. Those are serious arguments, befitting a serious antagonist. They may not sell gold coins as quickly and as well as excessive alarmism, but they have the inestimable advantage of being true.

Barack Obama is a serious man. The professional and political right needs to be as serious as he is to make sure the Age of Obama ends with him.

I’m not sure what JPod’s real point here is, other than to repeatedly label Obama “serious.” What are we supposed to do, put on our Grim Serious faces? Not point out how frivolous he is, with his endless golfing and spending?

The closest Podhoretz comes to a prescription is to tell conservatives to stop pushing a view “that Obama is a not-so-secret Marxist Kenyan with dictatorial ambitions and a nearly limitless appetite for power.” Take the word “Kenyan” out of that phrase and I have no problem with it, as long as the argument is backed up by examples and facts. If Obama takes an action that shows his commitment to Marxist redistributionist principles (which happens all the time) or seems to want to reserve the option to, say, kill Americans on American soil even if they pose no imminent threat (remember the drone debate?), are we supposed to stand by and whistle nonchalantly?

That doesn’t sound like a very “serious” response.


The Dangers of Hotlinking

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:33 pm

A few days ago, the site was down for an hour or two. I got in touch with my friendly webmaster, who explained that a major news site* had hotlinked a picture of Michael Hiltzik on my server. In other words, instead of grabbing the picture and putting it on the server of the major news site, the site had simply embedded the URL of the picture, and used my server’s resources to show their audience the picture.

My server was being accessed about 1000 times a minute, he said. It knocked me off line in no time flat.

He sent them a polite note asking them to stop. No response. He replaced the image at the URL in question with a blank image. Still no response.

Finally, he suggested that he could replace the picture with another one . . . which would cause the picture of Hiltzik to be replaced with the one he had in mind.

He showed me what he was talking about. “Do it,” I said. (As soon as I had stopped laughing.)

Very quickly, the site resolved the problem, and my site was back up.

But not before my webmaster got a screenshot:

*My webmaster has revealed the name of the site: I’d never heard of it before, but it’s apparently a Dow Jones site, capable of generating 1000 hits to my server in a minute with a picture of Michael Hiltzik. So it’s not like ABC News or anything like that, but big enough to know better.

The Explosion of Social Security Disability

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:41 am

A recent episode of This American Life addressed the explosion of Social Security Disability claims over the last 20 years. We have 14 million people on this program and they don’t count in the unemployment numbers. So when you hear the pundits on TV talk about unemployment, picture 14 million people, many receiving checks for things like back pain, bipolar disorder, and other maladies that are common in the workforce. Realize that those 14 million people, collecting an average of $1000 per month plus free health care, are not part of the unemployment numbers you are hearing.

The episode is chock-full of interesting information and the whole hour is well worth your time, but I’ll try to summarize the points that jumped out at me. In 1984 Congress changed the definition of “disability” to include things like back pain and mental disorders, which are now the majority of disability claims. TAL visited a town where fully 25% of the inhabitants are on disability; yard sales are timed after the issuance of government checks because that’s when people can afford the items. In another town, a mill closed down in the town, and it sounds like pretty much everybody who had worked there checked out of the workforce.

Social Security disability claims have exploded, despite any corresponding decline in our health — and despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which in theory ought to make it easier for people with disabilities to work. We even issue checks for children with learning disabilities, and their caregivers depend on the money . . . which keeps coming in, as long as they are still struggling in school. Do you think they continue to struggle in school? Many of these children quickly learn that even a part-time job as a teenager will cut the amount of their disability check, and they are thus discouraged from working, and learn to go on permanent disability when they reach adulthood. We are teaching generations of children to collect checks for a living. As the reporter says:

Kids should be encouraged to go to school. Kids should want to do well in school. Parents should want their kids to do well in school. Kids should be confident their parents can provide for them regardless of how they do in school. Kids should become more and more independent as they grow older and hopefully be able to support themselves at around age 18.

The disability program stands in opposition to every one of these aims.

But what about welfare reform? Didn’t we toss millions of people off the welfare rolls in the 1990s and beyond? Um, not exactly. We have, to a great extent, simply been moving them off the welfare rolls and onto the disability rolls. See, what we think of as “welfare” primarily comes out of state budgets — more so after the welfare reform law. So states save money when people get off the welfare rolls — even if they are simply moving onto federal disability rolls. With these incentives, it should not surprise you to learn that states contract with companies whose purpose is to comb the welfare rolls to find people who might qualify for federal disability. These companies have call centers, and small armies of people call these welfare recipients to ask: Can you think of any ailments you have that keep you from working? Does your back hurt? Do you have high blood pressure? Sleep apnea? Diabetes? Depression? Great! We’ll set you up with a doctor and we’ll help you apply for disability, and soon enough you’ll be collecting four times what you’re collecting now!

The head of one of these operations calls it “win/win.” The state wins because they get people off their welfare rolls. The individual wins because they collect a ton more money.

Somewhere in there it seems like there’s probably a loser, but he doesn’t mention those people. (Hi, federal taxpayers!)

And hey, if you are rejected for disability, don’t fret. The government pays lawyers who can successfully appeal a decision to deny disability. You read that correctly. If your lawyer wins an appeal of your denial of disability status, he collects a portion of your back pay, and that check is payable directly by the federal government to the lawyer. One lawyer interviewed had 30,000 clients and made $68 million last year appealing disability denials. Total payouts to lawyers exceed a billion dollars per year.

And what does one of these appeal hearings look like? Well, the lawyer goes into a court in front of an administrative law judge, makes his case, and then the government lawyer — oh wait! Silly me! There is no government lawyer! The lawyer stands to gain a lifetime payout of $300,000 or so, and the U.S. has absolutely nobody representing its interests. In theory, the ALJ is neutral, is an employee of Social Security, and doesn’t need the other side presented. But one of the judges interviewed said he often looks to the part of the courtroom where there ought to be a government lawyer, because he is at a loss as to what the other side of the story should be.

To Obama, of course, all of this is a feature, not a bug. It helps further his goal of redistributing money and making a majority of voters dependents on the welfare state, thus entrenching a permanent Democrat majority.

But to any sane person, a story like this makes you want to scream.

If you can’t devote an hour to listen to the story, go here for a summary of the story with a lot of well-presented graphs that show just how deep the problem runs. It’s really a great job by the folks at Planet Money and This American Life.

P.S. I probably would have posted about this anyway, as I’m a big fan of TAL, but I should note that elissa flagged the episode in comments, reminding me to do a post. Thanks, elissa.

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