Tuesday stings

| April 14, 2009
Were from the Government, and were here to help!

We're from the Government, and we're here to help!

[Here are Wednesday’s links as well]


ITEM: USA Today has an outstanding article debunking the various myths about the Columbine shooters who killed just over a dozen of their fellow students 10 years ago:

They weren’t goths or loners.

The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver’s Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren’t in the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn’t been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and “fags.” . . .

“These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation,” psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.”

How many TV shows and movies in the last decade have reinforced the stereotype of the “goth/loser/excluded” student shooter? Read the whole thing.

ITEM: Oopsie! You know those evil Wall Street executives who took “shameful” bonuses while receiving federal bailout money? Well, one of them is working in the Obama Administration — as a Deputy Secretary of State, no less.


ITEM: The grandstanding out of Congress and the Obama Administration continues to have consequences:

Businesses, already struggling to survive the perils of an economic downturn, are starting to push back against a growing public perception that business travel is wasteful and unethical.

Government efforts to curtail corporate travel by companies that receive federal bailout funds have demonized the meeting business and harmed the nation’s hotel and travel trade, industry leaders say.

As with the brain drain on Wall Street, it is unclear whether these consequences are desired or unintended. The classic dictum, of course, is “Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” The problem is that with Congress, it’s really hard to separate the two.

ITEM: Creeping socialism/fascism alert: Faced with piracy, an unstable and dangerous border with Mexico, and a direct threat of a White House attack by the Taliban, the Department of Homeland Security has zeroed in on — “rightwing extremist activity” within the United States:

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

And just in time for the Tea Parties on Wednesday, too. I will cheerfully bet $1000 that during the Obama Administration, we will never see a report out of the DHS that uses the adjective “leftwing”, much less “leftwing extremist.” Any takers?

ITEM: From the New York Times, more details on the Navy’s rescue of Captain Phillips. Initial reports indicated that Phillips had jumped from the lifeboat just before the SEALs fired, but that was not the case; he was “tightly bound” and in the lifeboat at the time.

ITEM: Meanwhile, the “Barry and the Pirates” meme continues to spread, while others speculate that the Somali pirates will become the Left’s newest useful idiots. However, people elsewhere in the world are taking note — in some cases, favorably — that the US did what no one else has to date: intervened with force rather than succumb to ransom.

ITEM: And while Obama keeps talking about the “inherited Bush deficits” (which aren’t Bush’s at all — they are from the Democratic Congress that’s controlled spending for the last two years), he hasn’t said anything about the inherited Bush military, other than he plans to change it.

ITEM: Obama is losing “the legal Left“:

A growing chorus on the legal left is cooling toward President Barack Obama as a result of recent actions by the Justice Department vigorously defending the Bush administration in what it termed the war on terror.

“Obama Position on Illegal Spying: Worse Than Bush,” a large graphic declared over the weekend on the home page of a respected group advocating freedom on the Internet, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

ITEM Obama is also losing India, mostly for claiming the existence of something called “the moderate Taliban”. Yeah, where are those folks? Meanwhile, losing India is not a good thing at all.

ITEM: Obama continues to lose the American public, with his Rasmussen Presidential Approval index down to just +2 (after being as high as +8 just last week). I wonder if the approach of Tax Day has anything to do with that?

ITEM: Meanwhile, the global warming menace continues and will only get worse.

ITEM: This New York Times article, “Last Voyage for the Keeper of the Hubble“, reads like something out of a Heinlein short story.  It’s a great article and a great story; go read it.

ITEM: Yep, that stern letter from the UN Security Council to North Korea about its failed missile launch had a real impact, all right. Peace and security are just around the corner!

ITEM: Asinine opening paragraphs of the week:

Drivers have long wondered how size affects safety in car crashes. Many small cars perform well in safety tests but appear, intuitively at least, to be at a disadvantage in collision with larger vehicles.

Now a series of crash tests indicate the disadvantage is substantial, even when small cars collide with vehicles that don’t seem that much larger.

The only drivers who have ever “wondered how size affects safety in car crashes” are the stupid ones. One does not even need high school physics to know that a larger car is safer than a smaller car, especially if the two collide. Commentators have been noting for decades that the push for greater fuel efficiency through smaller, lighter car designs comes with an increased risk of injury and death. This “new study” is a bit like confirming that snow is cold or rain is wet, or that the sun comes up in the morning.

ITEM: Expect to see a lot more of these — “Oregon Sues [Oppenheimer Funds Inc.] Over Risks Taken In Its ‘529’ Fund“.  Key grafs:

Oregon charges that Oppenheimer Core Bond fund, which was in the state’s 529-plan options billed as “conservative,” became significantly more risky starting in late 2007 or early 2008. The fund lost 36% of its value in 2008, but its benchmark index, the Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index, rose 5.2%.

“The Core Bond Fund was no longer a plain bond fund,” the complaint says. “It had become a hedge-fund like investment fund that took extreme risks.”

The complaint says the fund veered into credit-default swaps and other derivatives, which the state called “high-risk bets that were plainly inappropriate for those saving for college.”

ITEM: Headline redundancy award: “Distracted Congress Loses Focus on Credit Freeze“. Collectively, Congress has about a 5-day attention span.

ITEM: Howard Jacobson talks about the rise of public anti-Semitism in Britain. I fear that may be a precursor to a similar rise here in the United States, especially given the Left’s constant ranting about “neocons” and “the Israeli lobby”.

ITEM: In local news, the Colorado Legislature is draining $500 million from the state’s workers comp insurance fund — paid by state businesses over the years — so they won’t have to cut the budget elsewhere. That, of course, leaves the question of just how Colorado is going to pay workers compensation claims. Expect to see more acts like this around the country.

That’s it for today; in the meantime, here are Monday’s links.

P.S. For those of you who moused over the poster image above, here’s what “the Spanish Prisoner” refers to.

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Category: Business, Climate Change, Creeping socialism, Economics, Engineering, Environment, Geopolitics, Legal, Links roundup, Main, Military, Obama Administration, Science, Space, Stimulus, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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