URLs du Jour

2012-06-11

An accidental theme today at Pun Salad:

  • Pork Porridge - Cafe Thu Thu,
Springvale Embarrassing Republican Department, Congressional Division:

    Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced three amendments to the recently passed Energy & Water appropriations bill that would have eliminated a slew of business subsidies at the Department of Energy. Unfortunately, House Republicans once again teamed up with their Democratic colleagues to keep the corporate welfare spigot flowing.

    The link goes to a post by Tad DeHaven at Cato, who details the amendments (later updated to four) and links to the official tally so you can find out how your CongressCritter voted. Summary:

    1. On the amendment to cut out the "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy" account at the DOE: 107 Republicans voted with all Democrats to preserve this spending. (New Hampshire's RINO Congressman, Charlie Bass voted with the Dems; my Congressman, Frank Guinta, did not bother to vote).

    2. Cutting nuclear energy research subsidies to private companies by $514 million: Republicans voted to maintain the spending 134-91, Democrats 147-15. Both Bass and Guinta favored the spending.

    3. Cutting "fossil energy research and development" funding by $554 million. Democrats thumbs-upped the spending 126-36; Republicans joined them 123-102. Both Bass and Guinta favored the spending.

    4. And, finally, little Dennis Kucinich offered an amendment that would have shut down the DOE's Title 17 loan guarantee program. Which gave us Solyndra. Democrats voted to keep it around, 155-27; Republicans joined them, 127-109. Finally, Frank Guinta voted against this particular waste of money; Charlie Bass, as expected, voted for it.

    I would think that Republicans would have learned by now that "Hey, we're slightly less likely than Democrats to spend money on corporate welfare." is not a particularly inspiring slogan.

  • Philip Greenspun attended MIT's "Technology Day", the topic was "American Transformations: the Next Industrial Revolution". It promised to examine how said Revolution would "thrust America again into a world leader in manufacturing." Unfortunately, Phil observes:

    In a panel discussion afterwards, the speakers were asked what it would take to make the U.S. more competitive for manufacturing. The answer was that it was pretty much hopeless at current tax rates. Big companies make a lot of money in foreign countries, but if they bring the profits back home they get hit with the world’s highest corporate tax rate. So they leave the money in China, for example, and then invest it there in research and development or a new factory. I.e., our own multinational companies are financing the new facilities around the world that are rendering the U.S. uncompetitive. A new enterprise, meanwhile, would be facing a choice between China, with a 15 percent corporate tax rate, proximity to all kinds of suppliers, and low costs, and the U.S., with a 35 percent tax rate (plus any state corporate income tax) and an ocean separating it from most component vendors.

    Unfortunately, we have a political climate where lowering the corporate tax rate (and hacking out great knotted swaths of loopholes, subsidies, etc.) could be, and would be, demagogued as a "corporate giveaway."

  • National Review has a number of fine writers, but a few are insanely great. One of them is Mr. Kevin D. Williamson; his recent article in the dead-trees magazine is now online, and it begins:

    There are two kinds of scandal on Wall Street: making money and losing money. Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.) cited “record profits from 2004 to 2007” in explaining his investigation of Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, and then in May cited losses at JPMorgan in calling for a swift regulatory response. President Barack Obama cites “record profits” for energy companies as constituting a case for federal action, and then cites losses at banks as justification for federal investigations. Perhaps there is a sweet spot in there somewhere, say a flat, reliable 10 percent return year after year — like Bernie Madoff’s.

    As Mr. Williamson points out, both unusual profits and unusual losses can be, and are, exploited for political gain.

  • OK, that's enough about the dysfunctional relation between business and government. You will want to read the explanation produced by Ms. Laryrn Hill (multi-millionaire American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, and actress) of her failure to file taxes between 2005 and 2007:

    For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s [sic] control over a given paradigm.

    Ms. Hill continues in this vein for, if I'm counting correctly, 1272 words. See how far you can get.

    Personally, I prefer the Steve Martin Explanation:

    You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes!

    You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes!

    You say.. "Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?"

    First.. get a million dollars.

    Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?"

    Two simple words.

    Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!"

    How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal." Let's suppose he says back to you, "You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, 'I forgot'?"

    Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"


Last Modified 2012-06-15 11:50 AM EDT

Paranormal Activity 2

[3.0 stars] Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) on IMDb [Amazon]

I'm kind of behind on this series. Paranormal Activity 4 is coming out in October!

Sorta-Spoiler: This movie extends the story from Paranormal Activity (mostly a prequel). Unfortunately, I'd forgotten the details from that movie, so that totally went over my head until I checked the IMDB afterward. Ah, well.

It is, like its predecessor, supposedly assembled from video footage taken by the characters themselves. It shows an initially happy family bringing their new baby, Hunter, into their lovely Carlsbad CA home. But soon there are bumps in the night! The only person who seems to grasp what's going on is the wise-Latina nanny, Martine; she insists on lighting incense throughout the house, which gets her the boot from her health-conscious employers. Ironic. Teenage daughter Ali thinks supernatural hauntings might be cool! She learns better.

It's not traditionally scary. And you have to sit through a lot of video footage, asking "Am I supposed to be noticing something? Did something move? Was there a reflection in that mirror?" So you wind up, pretty much, scaring yourself. Smart trick to making a low-budget movie!


Last Modified 2012-09-21 10:49 AM EDT