Monday, November 14, 2011

How to use environmental regulations to stifle competition

A real estate developer shows how the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) can be used against competitors, as the LA Times reports:
To halt a competing project near USC, Conquest Student Housing turned to a legal weapon that one of its co-owners allegedly compared to a crude bomb: cheap and destructive.

Conquest owned 17 buildings that rented to USC students. When the developer Urban Partners proposed erecting a new complex to house 1,600 students, Conquest sued under California's landmark environmental law.

It then filed similar challenges to unrelated Urban Partners projects elsewhere in the state.

That last step was apparently one too many:
Conquest withdrew its challenges only after Urban Partners filed a federal racketeering lawsuit.
For a developer, the ultimate solution to environmental regulations, of course, is to have supported the right politicians. Politicians, no matter how liberal, are happy to give you a free pass:
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law to allow a football stadium proposed for downtown Los Angeles to avoid drawn-out CEQA litigation. He signed a second bill that would allow an unspecified number of other major projects to gain the same treatment.
If environmental regulations are good, shouldn't they apply even to politically-favored projects? Apparently not. That seems to support Urban Partners contention that environmental lawsuits really are just racketeering.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obamanomics: its intellectual foundations explained

Then: Joe Biden explains (via Instapundit) how he and Barack Obama developed the economic plan for their administration:
I literally picked up the phone and called Jon Corzine and said 'Jon, what do you think we should do?' The reason why we called Jon is because we knew he knew about world markets, about how to respond. . . . We trusted his judgment.

Now: Politico reports on the bankruptcy of Jon Corzine's firm, MF Global:

The brokerage firm run by former New Jersey governor and senator Jon S. Corzine is being investigated by federal regulators after the discovery that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money has gone missing, according to reports.

A federal official said on Tuesday that an MF Global executive had admitted that the firm used clients’ money as troubles mounted over bad bets on European sovereign debt, according to the AP.

Taken all together, it is not surprising that America's finances resemble MF Global's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Obamanomics: maximize the uncertainty

On October 25, 2011, Pres. Obama spoke at a fundraiser (video):
"We have lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge..."
As if to confirm Obama's lack of ambition and imagination, his adminstration today announced that it will yet again punt on the decision to build the Keystone pipeline.  Reuters reports:
The Obama administration plans to announce on Thursday it will explore a new route for a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, delaying a final approval beyond the 2012 U.S. election, sources briefed on the matter said.
This leaves investors and workers still guessing. Should investors continue tie up time, effort, and capital in this project or should they move on to something else?  Should workers leave the pipeline area to move to places with better job prospects?  If Obama has an economic strategy seems to be to maximize uncertainty and confusion.  He wouldn't do that if he cared about jobs.  He would make a decision, one way or the other.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Media Matters caught again

Regarding James Taranto's column yesterday at the Wall Street Journal, MediaMatters writes:
Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto joined the onslaught of conservative media figures downplaying or dismissing sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain as "meaningless" or not "a real thing." Fox News has repeatedly hosted guests to talk down the allegations and push the claim that "so many" sexual harassment cases may be "frivolous."
The quotes above are fabricated: "meaningless", "[not] a real thing", and  "frivolous" did not appear in Taranto's column.

The underlying claim of the MadHatters MediaMatters piece is also wrong.  Taranto did not claim that the allegations against Cain were any of those things.  He merely stated, correctly, that, so far, there is not enough information released to go beyond a "maybe".

PREVIOUSLY on the issues of facts and MediaMatters:
MediaMatters' war against balanced news coverage: opposes liberals appearing on FoxNews
Obama vs. Fox; Also MediaMatters caught again
Mediamatters: disagreement is racist!
MediaMatters caught dishonestly editing Glenn Beck
Unbiased MSM gets its "truth" from Media Matters for America

Madeline Albright accuses Herman Cain of sexism

The Washington Examiner reports:
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who served under President Clinton, attacked the embattled Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for sexism during her appearance on Morning Joe this morning.

Noting that Cain had met with Cold Warrior and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to discuss foreign policy, host Joe Scarborough asked Albright if she had met with Cain and how that meeting unfolded. It turns out, they haven't met.

"Well, he didn't call me," Albright said, "I'm the wrong gender."[Emph. added]

I didn't know that left-wing-loon was a "gender."

More seriously, isn't just like a modern Democrat to think everything is sexism or racism?  Ms. Albright has never expressed an intelligent thought on foreign policy.  Her gender is not relevant.  It is her blind-liberalism which is relevant.

PREVIOUSLY on Madeline Albright:
Albright on alleged genocide: a half-million deaths were "worth it"
Albright's spin on letting bin Laden get away: an underling did it
The consequences of Carter-Clinton-Albright policy of appeasement of N. Korea
David Zucker's funny video on the Albright-Clinton foreign policy

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Work for the government, get rich

The Washington Examiner reports:
As of July 2011, 12,199 retired California employees draw six-figure pensions, according to the watchdog group, California Foundation for Fiscal Reform (CFFR), up from 9,111 in March of last year. Three of the new six-figure pensions provide the retired recipients with more than $260,000 annually, with the most generous of the three worth $271,157 per year, according to CFFR.
Hat tip: Instapundit

Massive fraud found in Social Psychologists' research

You may have thought that fraud in science was limited to global warming studies.  Ewen Callaway of Nature magazine reports otherwise:
When colleagues called the work of Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel too good to be true, they meant it as a compliment. But a preliminary investigative report ( released on October 31 gives literal meaning to the phrase, detailing years of data manipulation and blatant fabrication by the prominent Tilburg University researcher.

"We have some 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals where we are actually sure that they are fake, and there are more to come," says Pim Levelt, chair of the committee that investigated Stapel's work at the university.

The fraud apparently took the form of phony data. Stapel's coauthors used the data but reportedly were unaware of its fraudulent nature.

Stapel's research included work on stereotyping and discrimination.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

The spin team

Have you ever wondered how, on some given story, reporters so often gravitate to the same unlikely spin?  A partial answer was given when the Journolist internet mailing list was uncovered.   Emails from that list exposed how journalists hashed out coordinated responses on issues such as how to attack a popular Alaska Governor. 

The Vail Spot has published a very interesting list of confirmed participants in the Journolist.  Included are journalists from Newsweek, Time, Politico, The Atlantic, Economist, The New Republic, Washington Post, New York Observer, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Human Rights Watch, and Media Matters, among many others.

Hat tip: Instapundit and Althouse.

2009 Stimulus bill: the prosecutions begin

Politico reports that law enforcement is now catching up with Obama's 2009 Stimulus/Porkulus bill:
In written testimony prepared for delivery to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the investigations have involved "various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds."

So far, the investigations have led to five criminal prosecutions and brought in "over $2.3 million in monetary recoveries," Friedman said.

Why wasn't the stimulus money well-spent?  In the case of the Dept. of Energy, here is one clue:

The stimulus funding DOE received — more than $35 billion — was greater than previous annual budgets for the entire agency, most notably its $27 billion in funding for fiscal 2011.

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