Friday Follies

Friday Factory Tune: Merry Christmas, Everybody

By | Friday Follies | One Comment

One of the great, great Christmas pop songs, with Slade’s being cheerful and along-singable. Such a big hit in Europe, but woefully underplayed in the United States, “Merry Christmas, Everybody.”

Too weird? Nah, that would be Wizzard’s, “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

P.S. In response to OSHA’s proposed guidance on earmuffs and the like, we endorse Slade’s view, “Cum on Feel the Noize.”

Friday Factory Tune: The Chinese Envoy

By | Friday Follies, General | No Comments

Seems topical.

That’s John Cale from his 1992 solo performance memorialized as “Fragments of a Rainy Season.” Great, great presentation of his oeuvre, although the Dylan Thomas material is an acquired taste. The versions of “Cordoba” and “Dying on the Vine” are much better than the studio versions.

Coincidently, John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, addressed the Chinese envoy question in a response to a reporter’s question Wednesday. Engler said:

It’s long been our position that the Chinese currency is undervalued. I tell you what I’m reluctant to do is give the Congress of the United States a pass on fixing so many issues that are problems for manufacturing and have them try to act as though they’re the Politburo over in China. We’re not the Chinese government.
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Friday Factory Tune: High Tension Line

By | Energy, Friday Follies | One Comment

In light of last Saturday’s panel discussion at the National Governors’ Association, “Advancing a Green Energy Economy,” here’s The Fall and a music video, “High Tension Line.” As obscure as most songs by Mark E. Smith, but likewise catchy.

Smith is quite attuned to energy policy issues. There’s “Mountain Energei” and the ’80s semi-hit, “No Bulbs,” as in, “No bulbs in this flat.”

Friday Factory Tune: Bulldozers and Dirt

By | Communications, Friday Follies, General | No Comments

In light of the White House-Congress-Big Labor deal to give unions an exemption from the excise tax on “Cadillac health plans,” we wanted to post the Drive By Truckers doing “Carl Perkins Cadillac,” but the quality is poor. Instead, here’s Bulldozers and Dirt (with a little bit of off-color language).

And here’s DBT’s Patterson Hood doing “George Jones Talking Cell Phone Blues,” which should appropriately be the theme song for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s alliance with activists groups to ban cell phone use in cars. Seriously. It’s a campaign of full-blown prohibition.

Friday Factory Tune: Baby, I Need Your Loving

By | Friday Follies, Infrastructure | No Comments

Today is the 82nd anniversary of the opening of the Holland Tunnel, an important engineering advance that connected New York and New Jersey. As The History Channel reports:

The Holland Tunnel between New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey, was officially opened on this day when President Calvin Coolidge telegraphed a signal from the presidential yacht, Mayflower, anchored in the Potomac River. Within an hour, over 20,000 people had walked the 9,250-foot distance between New York and New Jersey under the Hudson River, and the next day the tunnel opened for automobile service. The double-tubed underwater tunnel, the first of its kind in the United States, was built to accommodate nearly 2,000 vehicles per hour. Chief engineer Clifford Milburn Holland resolved the problem of ventilation by creating a highly advanced ventilation system that changed the air over 30 times an hour at the rate of over 3,000,000 cubic feet per minute.

We find no song about the Holland Tunnel, but Johnny Rivers did have a hit with “Baby, I Need Your Loving” by Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a Growing Field

By | Briefly Legal, Friday Follies | No Comments

New(s) to us, but it’s another topic for discussion at the American Association for Justice’s summer gathering in San Francisco, i.e., the trial lawyers’ convention. From Sunday’s sessions outlined in the AAJ convention brochure:

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD Litigation Group

Theme: Effective Trial Presentation of Chronic Pain Syndrome Cases

  • Cases That Fly and Cases That Bark: Tips for Telling Them Apart
  • Making Medicine (and Invisible Pain Syndromes) Real for the Jury in CRPS Cases
  • Trial Techniques in CRPS Cases
  • Challenging Defense Experts (Foundational Attacks and IMEs)
  • CRPS in Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Matters
  • Question and Answer Session

RSD stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, another term for the malady. The Merck Manual has more.

Not to denigrate or deny anyone’s pain, CRPS still makes for a good syndrome for exploitation by personal injury lawyers — the etiology is uncertain, it manifests itself through different symptoms, and the pain is subjectively reported.

House Homeland Security Still Working on Chemical Security Bill

By | Briefly Legal, Friday Follies, Regulations | No Comments

The House Homeland Security Committee continues its markup at 5:30 p.m. of H.R. 2868, the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act, a seemingly well-intentioned piece of legislation that will make U.S. production and storage of chemicals more expensive and burdensome with no appreciable benefit to public safety and national security. Extension of the current 2006 regulations would allow the increased safety measures known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, or CFATS, to be implemented fully in a logical, effective way. The Obama Administration supports such an extension.

We posted on the bill here and here, and have also noted the writing of E.F. Glynn, blogging at KansasMeadowlark, concerned about the impact of yet more government regulation on farmers and the ag economy. In a new post, “Homeland Security may impose new regulations on agriculture,” Glynn includes videos from last week’s committee meeting and expresses astonishment that the debate seems to be driven by a left-leaning think tank: “A Center for American Progress study that shows no economists or engineers on the project team, nor any economic or engineering analysis, is enough for Congress to decide national chemical security policy?”

Well, count up the usual suspects. The believers in regulations first and always at OMB Watch say, “Chemical Security Bill Withstanding Industry Assault“: “With luck and the continued hard work of the ‘Blue Green Coalition’ of labor, environmental, and public interest groups, the bill hopefully will emerge from this committee mostly unscathed.” See, obviously this coalition formed because of their mutual interest in fighting terrorism.

There’s also the U.S. PIRG news release, “U.S. PIRG Urges Passage of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009.”

Both groups support the “citizen suits” provisions which create a second regulatory system, that imposed by environmentalist lawsuits. Blogger P.J. Coyle also wonders about the impetus behind the newly added “citizen suits” provision at his blog, “Chemical Facility Security News.”

As committee members debate this legislation that will add costs to a major employer during a serious recession, we would remind them of these facts, courtesy the American Chemistry Council:

That’s 5.66 million jobs.

How Dare You Petition the Government, Expanded

By | Economy, Friday Follies | 11 Comments

From The Washington Post, “White House Broadens Communications Limits“:

The White House is bolstering its restrictions on lobbying for stimulus funds, expanding the ban on oral communications with administration officials to include not only federally registered lobbyists but also consultants and other individuals who seek to exert influence over the spending process.

As summarized in “update,” published on the White House, “Update on Recovery Act Lobbying Rules: New Limits on Special Interest Influence,” a memo, or blog post, on online commentary, from Norm Eisen, White House Ethics Counsel:

First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists.  For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process.  We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made.  Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits.  To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.

Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists.  If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact.

Our bolding. What exactly is “the merits?” How do we determine what these merits are? Apparently not through oral communication, i.e., “Oh, hi, Bill. That’s a good project.” No phone calls, either.

“A form must be completed…” If the White House wishes to achieve transparency,  it should start by banning the use of the passive voice so communications are clear.

Lobbyists and organizations that lobby complained that the White House’s restrictions on lobbying on stimulus fund projects were discriminatory and unfair because the same restrictions didn’t apply to people like corporate executives or officials. So these memorandumly noted changes address that fairness issue by expanding the ban on orally petitioning the government or expressing one’s views through speech. In the interests of transparency the First Amendment must be sacrificed.

The restrictions are also ambiguous enough that a lobbyist or other petitioner won’t be sure how to fully comply. So if someone runs afoul of White House officials, a phone call to a news outlet or a friendly prosecutor can punish the offender. Ambiguous rules plus capricious application equals negative rule of law.

UPDATE (1 p.m.): Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner reaches similar conclusions. From “White House moves to restrict criticism of stimulus projects“:

This is the Camel’s nose under the tent, being poked because of special circumstances. Let government restrict political expression – i.e. lobbying of government officials regarding policy – in one small, supposedly specialized area and not long after the specialized area starts expanding. Eventually, all political expression regarding all policy will become subject to government regulation.

More on this as it develops. And trust me, it will develop.

(Hat tip, Instapundit. And thanks for the links, Mark and Glenn!)