Interesting Items 4/16 -
Howdy all, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy -
In this issue:
1. Hush Money
1. Hush Money. North Carolina is predicted to be the bellwether state for Obama’s reelection this year - essentially Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004 or Virginia in 2008. This is one of the reasons that the democrats selected Charlotte as the location for its national convention. In the runup to the election, national democrats have pulled out all the stops trying to curry favor with voters in the state. Things are not going so well in North Carolina for the democrats. The incumbent governor Bev Perdue (D) got herself in sufficient trouble with voters that she decided not to run for reelection and will be stepping down after her term is over. The convention planners, being all union droids of various flavors are busily stepping on non-union vendors in Charlotte, refusing to use them unless they use union members to provide the goods and services for the convention. As North Carolina is a right to work state, they are having a hard time finding businesses to do business with. Add to this mess a new sex scandal within the state democrat party. This one had the state party executive director accused of sexual harassment of a male staffer (both were males). Both parties signed a non disclosure agreement and a substantial sum of money was paid to the staffer. That money reportedly does not show up on the party fiscal books. I ran across this story via Roger Hedgecock’s talk show Friday. North Carolina has its primary election on May 8. On the ballot is Amendment 1, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Of course all the usual suspects have opposed it in the name of fairness and equality. I expect the sexual harassment scandal to assist its passage. May 8 will be an interesting evening.
2. NASA. 49 former Apollo and Shuttle astronauts and mission control leaders sent a joint letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week. The letter was a warning that NASA had significantly over extended itself embracing the notion of catastrophic manmade global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions - essentially the claptrap that NASA Goddard employee James Hansen has been pushing and making good money off of for over 15 years. Signatories included some very heavy hitters out of the Astronaut corps including Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7), Ed Gibson (Skylab 4), Richard Gordon (Gemini XI, Apollo 12), Joseph Kerwin (Skylab 2), Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17), Al Worden (Apollo 15), and Christopher Craft. The tone of the letter was that NASA is losing its credibility by embracing as scientific certainty something that is not certain at all. They urged NASA to back away from complete reliance on climate models and get back to the business of simply gathering data. This is the first significant break within the agency over manmade global warming and may be the beginning of a more rational and reasonable approach to the science. NASA’s chief scientist responded a day or so later essentially patting all the old guys on the head and condescendingly inviting the former astronauts and JSC administrators to join the scientific discussion. This means that he does not have a clue what Hansen and NASA Goddard have been doing to both the data and the models over the last couple of decades.
3. Dayton. I reported several months ago that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) was rewarding his supporters in the SEIU by issuing an executive order requiring all in-home child care workers statewide to join a union in order to get paid by the state. The impact of this order would be to divert state Medicare / Medicaid money from the patients to the pockets of the SEIU via union dues and then into the campaign coffers of democrat candidates in Minnesota. The health care workers took this high handed executive order to court and won a temporary restraining order against Dayton. The judge found that this action properly belonged in the legislature rather than coming out of the office of the governor. There is also right to work legislation stalled in the state legislature. Polling in the state has supported this legislation by a 55 - 24% majority. If Dayton gets away with this gambit, he will be able to force unionization of vast areas of the economy in the state via the excuse that any state or federal money allows him to force the recipient business to hold a union election regardless of what the employees or employers want. Congratulations to the judge. Hot Air, Mon.
4. NORKs. Baby Kim made an attempt to launch a satellite last week. The missile test was unsuccessful as it broke up during launch and did not make it the length of the Korean peninsula. Next up for Baby Kim is very likely another nuclear test. The test alarmed all of his neighbors including both the Russians and Japanese. The US Navy reportedly had an Aegis cruiser underneath the flight path. This ship has the ability to shoot a missile down. I have not heard any scuttlebutt about that happening, though it would be a pleasant thought. Note that any rocket that can put a satellite in orbit can also put a warhead anywhere on the planet provided it is small enough to loft. The NORKs are playing a dangerous game here.
5. Dock. As the Alaska legislature winds down their 90-day session, the capital budget has been making its way through the meat grinder. In that budget is $7 million for dock improvements and new pilings in Bristol Bay. It was put into the request by the local state senator. I find the inclusion of dock improvements in Bristol Bay problematic. Note that the commercial fishing industry, with the majority of permit holders from out of state (mostly Seattle), has been fighting tooth and nail the proposed Pebble Mine north of lake Iliamna. They have invited in the EPA to what is a state permitting project, an invite that the EPA has happily accepted. All of this has slowed down a project with the value of all oil pumped out of Prudhoe Bay over the last 30 years, something that would bring thousands of high paying jobs and infrastructure to one of the poorest parts of the state. Why are rewarding them with taxpayer funded infrastructure? Perhaps it is time to shut off the freebies to those that are standing in the way of the creation of new jobs.
6. Zimmerman. Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder last week. Zimmerman turned himself in to the police the next day, was arrested and arraigned. Murder two in Florida is very difficult to get a conviction on and the charging document was particularly weak. It did not include any known exculpatory evidence for Zimmerman, leading numerous observers to note that it was more of a political document than a criminal one. The other thought was that the prosecutor overcharged Zimmerman in hopes of forcing him into a plea bargain, manslaughter for instance. Alan Dershowitz analyzed the document and pronounced it unethical and something that would never make it past a judge. He may be correct, but unfortunately this case has been politicized to the extent that it will not only make it past a judge but will very likely make it to a jury. And if I were the defense attorney, I would pay particular attention to the racial composition of the jury due to the unending race baiting by Sharpton, Farrakhan, the New Black Panther Party, Holder’s (In)Justice Department, et al. Finally, analysis of the encounter that night suggests that Martin knew Zimmerman was following him; walked out of sight; hid; doubled back; and then confronted Zimmerman when he was on his way back to his truck. If true, good luck proving Zimmerman acted with â€œâ€¦ a depraved mind regardless of human life â€¦â€
7. Chile. Chile has been working on farmed salmon for a couple decades, and it appears that they are about to figure it out. A week ago, a local writer who follows commercial fishing reported that the output of farmed salmon from Chile this year was going to surpass the poundage of salmon caught by Alaska’s commercial fishermen. The marketplace works. It always works. This will drive prices down, putting a fiscal squeeze on Alaska’s commercial fishermen. The problem here in Alaska is that the commercial fishermen have chosen protection rather than the marketplace as the vehicle to ensure high prices and sales. It is illegal to farm fish in the state, even though the Canadians are farming Atlantic salmon and the Scandinavians are farming halibut. And the commercial boys are politically powerful. When squeezed, they tend to point at sportfish which brings in more dollars and takes less than one percent of all fish caught statewide and demand a smaller share of the pie for the sport fishermen. For instance, a sport caught king or silver by a tourist would bring a few tens to hundreds of dollars per pound for a large fish (guide fees, plane ticket, room, board, meals, and equipment rental). The same fish caught commercially would bring a few tens of cents to a dollar or two per pound if retained. If caught by the wrong boat, it may very well be discarded as bycatch. The levels of bycatch (illegally caught fish) for some species approach that of the actual target fish. It is long past time for Alaska to turn their commercial fishermen from hunter - gatherers into property owners and farmers. This will increase salmon returns into streams statewide, improving stream habitat. It will also improve personal use and subsistence catch amounts, and provide more opportunities for tourists to show up and put fish in the freezer. You cannot step in the way of the marketplace and come away unscathed.
More later -