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OpenMarket: April 2009

  • When Government Spending Gets Really Obscene

    April 23, 2009
    My good friend and Bureaucrash ally Xaq Fixx recently altered me to an interesting story on the intersection of politics, technology and free speech. It seems that the state government of California, through the California Employment Training Panel, is paying contractors who train in-state workers in new skills - an effort to boost the Golden State's notoriously sagging economy. Nothing too unusual there. Enter SF Weekly's Matt Smith, who noticed that the list of recipients of this state-subsidized training were employees of Cybernet Entertainment LLC. Cybernet in turn is the proprietor of a number of websites which feature videos catering to adult and, ah, highly specialized interests. Kinky but legal, in other words. Smith submitted a public...
  • Celebrating the Bard's birthday

    April 23, 2009


    ‘Though there’s uncertainty about the exact date, April 23 is observed as William Shakespeare’s birthday, and Reason’s Nick Gillespie and National Review Online celebrate the Bard. Here’s a quote for today:

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be...

  • Torture Prosecutions for Thee, But Not for Me

    April 23, 2009
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants Bush Administration officials prosecuted for facilitating torture. Fair enough. But if they get prosecuted, she should get prosecuted, too. She knew of the torture and knowingly funded the very programs that engaged in it. She only objected to it after Bush's poll ratings went down. Andrew Sullivan, who detests the Bush Administration,...
  • Comedic highlights of the Waxman-Markey bill hearing

    April 23, 2009
    File these vignettes among the endless list of political inanities that would be uproariously funny if the potential economic fallout were not so toxic. Yesterday, in honor of Earth Day, House Energy & Commece Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) held an interminable hearing on global warming legislation that he and Rep. Ed Markey (D-CA) have drafted. Ranking Member Joe Barton of Texas today issued a press release providing some comedic highlights from the proceeding. A grim green award goes to anyone who can read it without laughing. 
    Scenes from an Earth Day Hearing, Part II House Energy & Commerce Committee, April 21-23 April 23, 2009 Is $8 gas good or bad? Energy Secretary: 'Yes' REP. CLIFF STEARNS, R-Fla.: Last September you made a statement...
  • General Growth Properties (GGP) -- Bankruptcy the way it ought to be

    April 23, 2009
    On the surface, given the economic turmoil we've had, there was nothing that remarkable about the bankruptcy of shopping mall owner General Growth Properties (GGP). Late last week, GGP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an action that some had been expecting for months  given its debt of almost $25 billion. GGP was the second largest mall owner in the country -- with properties including Chicago's Water Tower and the DC area-Tyson's Gallleria -- and filed for what has been described the biggest U.S. real estate bankuptcy ever. Yet the bankruptcy barely made a ripple in the stock market, which was up last Thursday the 16th, the day of its filing. And most of its malls, according to various local press reporties, operated as if nothing had changed. Yet, in another way, the fact that this bankruptcy has so far gone off so smoothly is...
  • Obama credit card meeting -- should meet with economists instead

    April 23, 2009
    Instead of meeting with the executives of credit card issuers and sactimoniously lecturing them about not raising rates, as he is doing today,  President Obama would serve card holders more effectively by meeting with economists and listening to their concerns about the dangers of price controls on credit card services. Economists from all schools of thought -- from Keynesian to supply-side -- recognize the basic principle of microeconomics that price controls lead to shortages of  commodities, including credit, and cause distortions that harm ordinary consumers. Limits on risk-based pricing, as enacted in rules last year from the Federal Reserve, and in proposals in Congress that go beyond these rules, could result in sharp limits in the availability of credit at...
  • Diamond in the rough?

    April 22, 2009

    Hmm. A Papua New Guinea tribesman is suing the The New Yorker magazine over an article penned by MacArthur “Genius” and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond. The $10-million suit claims that Diamond falsely accuses the tribesman and another colleague of criminal acts, including murder, in a bloody revenge tale.

    While PNG tribesman Daniel Wemp admitted telling stories to Diamond and others, a friend of his said that it’s common practice:

    When foreigners come to our...

  • Unions Disunited -- and Fighting

    April 22, 2009
    The civil war between the two factions that until recently made up the union UNITE-HERE heated up further this week. Yesterday, the leadership of the rump UNITE-HERE voted to suspend the union's general president, Bruce Raynor, who led a dissident faction out of the union. Raynor's group incorporated as a new union, Workers United, which is now affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as a "conference" of SEIU. Today, UNITE-HERE followed up with a protest outside SEIU's Washington, D.C., headquarters, at which UNITE-HERE claims it had 300...
  • "We don't need no stinking baseload," FERC Chairman

    April 22, 2009
    Okay, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff didn't actually say America doesn't need coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He stopped short of openly embracing the We Can Solve It! agenda of "repowering" America" with zero-emissions, non-nuclear electricity in 10 years.  He is not an avowed apostle of Gorethodoxy. But he's close enough for government work. Wellinghoff told reporters (Greenwire, subscription required) that we "may not need any [new coal and nuclear power plants], ever." One reason being that new coal plants will be "too expensive." Huh? If coal plants are too costly, then why have eco-litigation groups fought so hard to stop coal plants from being built? Silly me, Wellinghoff undoubtedly means that once Congress enacts the Waxman-Markey...
  • ¿Can We Be Amigos?

    April 22, 2009
    The Fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago on April 17th shed light on America’s new role in the Western Hemisphere. The most controversial issue was President Obama’s welcoming attitude towards the Republic of Cuba. According to, at the summit President Obama made it the issue there by stating:
    We all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic society… I have already changed a Cuba policy that has failed to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people.
    President Obama lifted the travel ban but has yet to lift the trade embargo. He wants this act to signify the beginning of a new open relationship between the two nations. The U.S. could approach...


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