Fun With Percentages

This graph tells a story: The United States is the stingiest of all countries relative to military budgets.

For example, the United States spends the equivalent of 3% of its defense budget on foreign aid. Contrast this with the Danes, who spend the equivalent of 52% of its defense budget on foreign aid. That is, for every defense dollar Denmark spends, it apparently also spends about a half dollar on foreign aid.

That’s a nice story, Bodie. But what this chart doesn’t illustrate is the relative size of these budgets. Ergo, it’s possible (but I am to lazy to research to prove) that Denmark’s defense budget is so low that 3% of America’s defense budget dwarfs the 53% commitment of Denmark’s.

So one way to bring this into parity would be to raise the foreign corruption contributions and NGO viggorish to 53% of the current US defense budget. The other is to drop the United States’ to match Denmark’s.

One assumes either would please someone who points to these charts as evidence of the United States’ stinginess. Personally, I’ll be satisfied with the absolute, real number amount our wise and benevolent (or at least smiling) leaders in Washington, D.C., expend or perhaps a little dissatisfied that it’s so much.

It’s a Constitutional Medley!

First, we have “The Interstate Commerce Blues“.

Next, “Kelo (The Banana Court Song)“.

Finally, my contribution, “Kelo-Backed Seizure”, which goes something like this:

Kelo-Backed Seizure

The court ruled hard against homeowners’ rights
Across the country in D.C.
Eminent domain is in the eye
Of local governments and their greed

Our house is ours, it holds all our things
Our town doesn’t want it yet
But if it wants another mall
Or industrial court for someone else….

Kelo-backed seizure
Down the road for more tax base
Kelo-backed seizure
Through enforcement of the law
Kelo-backed seizure
Once it’s started, what will follow?
Kelo-backed seizure
An invention of a blight

When I was young, I thought I could own
A home and land as property
But on the weight of New Castle’s want
I know now that it’s a dream


Kelo-backed seizure
Down the road for more tax base
Kelo-backed seizure
Through enforcement of the law
Kelo-backed seizure
Once it’s started, what will follow?
Kelo-backed seizure
An invention of a blight

No, no, no….
No, no, no….
No, no, no….
No, no, no….

Kelo-backed seizure
Down the road for more tax base
Kelo-backed seizure
Through enforcement of the law
Kelo-backed seizure
Once it’s started, what will follow?
Kelo-backed seizure

Down the road for more tax base
Through enforcement of the law
Once it’s started, what will follow?
An invention of a blight

(Apologies to Mr. Mister, and although it’s not my fault, I’d like to apologize for Clay Aiken’s remake and for Rick Springfield’s remake of “Broken Wings”. I should really send them a card.)

(Other portions of the medley seen on The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Perhaps It Calls For Eminent Domain

In Nebraska, one government entity wants to take over other separate government entities by force:

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said Thursday that he is against an Omaha Public Schools plan to take over schools in the metro area.

OPS wants to annex 21 Millard schools and four in Ralston, which are within Omaha city limits. Eventually, Elkhorn Public Schools also would be part of OPS under the plan. The OPS School Board calls it a plan of one city, one district and said the move would level the playing field.

Four school districts have banded together to fight the plan, and Douglas County officials have told OPS that they have no authority to redraw borders or reassign taxes.

More evidence, along with intragovernment lawsuits over funding and eminent domain for “public use” that is merely an increased tax base, that government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished, with government of the government, by the government, for the government holding the pillow over the republic’s head until it stopped kicking.

State Legislator Opens Her Wallet

From an op-ed from one of Missouri’s state legislators regarding Medicaid budget cuts:

Before voting against the Medicaid and adoption-subsidy cuts, I urged my fellow legislators to remember that we must accept responsibility for what happens to Missourians who lose health coverage and necessary family supports.

I laud this legislator for taking personal responsibility for helping out the underprivileged and by conceding her own income to ensure they have a minimum level of sustenance….

Aw, hell, who am I kidding? By we must accept responsibility, she means we must compel the citizens of Missouri to take fiscal responsibility. Her only effort needs to be to act to ensure that others must act.

The Unspoken Words

A tavern closes down in Wisconsin to make room for a Walgreens. Which words are missing from this sepia-toned account?

Oh, yeah, eminent domain.

But its synonyms and sentiments abound:

The answer to his Walgreens question is “economic development,” something that seems much needed in an area with boarded-up Polish flats being stripped of their siding, wandering transients and a fair trade in drugs and prostitution.

“Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is historic,” said Ald. Bob Donovan, who represents the 8th District, within which the tavern sits, and who made an unusual parliamentary maneuver to get the development the City Hall green light earlier this year after its chances for passing had stalled over the previous two.

Donovan said he saw in the $5 million development a chance for the neighborhood to “get a shot in the arm.”

“What the neighborhood is getting is an investment in their community,” said Michael Polzin, a New Berlin native and spokesman for the suburban-Chicago-based chain, which has 31 stores in Milwaukee proper. He’s never been to the National Liquor Bar.

“Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is historic.” Replace the word old with yours and the word historic with not ours to dispose of as we wish if you want to get to the heart of the grabby little thought processes of small-time government power brokers.

Slip a Little Unsupported Causation into That Story, Please; I Need To Know What To Think and To Implore My Government to Do Something

3 Teens Accused Of Kidnapping 10-Year-Old Boy: Boys Were Playing Video Games:

The case started when the boy was at his grandmother’s home and went next door to play video games with the teens.

Police said the teens stopped playing the games and started a real-life drama with real weapons.

The newspaper offers the hint of causation; had the young man gone next door to play Parcheesi, would we have heard about it?

Trick Question

How many planets are there in the solar system?


A newfound object in our solar system’s outskirts may be larger than any known world after Pluto, scientists said today.

It also has a moon.

I guess that’s one argument against book learnin’; the books become obsolete after a while, even on the most settled subjects.

The English QUAGMIRE!

Let the drumbeats begin:

Police apparently using stun grenades raided a west London home Friday seeking suspects in the failed July 21 bombings targeting the capital’s transit system, and a British television network reported one arrest.

Police snipers participated in a raid in the Notting Hill section of London, where suspects in the failed July 21 bombings were thought to be hiding.

The raid took place near Portobello Road in the chic Notting Hill neighborhood famous for its weekend street market.

Metropolitan Police confirmed that “an armed operation is currently in progress” but said it was in the “very early stages.”

Sky News reported two small explosions in the area, where helicopters buzzed overhead and police cordoned off a number of streets, and said one person had been arrested.

Compare London to Baghdad:

  • An increased pace of suicide bombings? Check.
  • Increasing violence? Check.
  • Armed operations leading to hunt the insurgents? Check.
  • Squabbling political rivals with incendiary rhetoric? Check.
  • Rationing/shortages that impair the quality of life of citizens? Check. In Baghdad, it’s water or electricity; in London, it’s health care.

What’s the contrast? We hear positive news regularly coming out of London, about people who go about their daily lives, entertain themselves, raise families (well, letting the government or street raise families), and some sense of normalcy.

If all we got was a steady stream of stories like this one from England, along with some stories of soccer hooliganism (I mean, attacks by forces loyal to local warlords) to break it up, perhaps we would want to abandon England.

(Link seen on Michelle Malkin.)

Looks Like a Paradox

From the story Popular combination of Missouri Lottery numbers drawn twice in same day, we get this potentially earth-shaking rethinking of number theory:

Triple numbers are popular Pick 3 bets, with 4-4-4 ranked as the top combination and 0-0-0 coming in 11th, Gonder said.

0-0-0 comes in 11th of a possible 10 triple number combinations?

Gonder might have said that the two triple number examples are ranked relative to the combination of all possible values and not just triple numbers, but the paragraph is not really clear.

Space-time continuum rift: Averted!

Because Otherwise It Would Have Been Unsporting

NHL returns Oct. 5 with busiest night ever: All 30 teams will be playing when league resumes after missed season:

Not wanting fans to have to wait one extra day to see their teams, the NHL has scheduled 15 games — including all 30 clubs — on opening night Oct. 5.

Because otherwise it would have been unsporting to schedule 15 games and only 29 teams. How the Atlanta Thrashers would have complained about their loss to the New York Rangers had they not actually played….

Optimism Marks the Start of Major Spending

Final funding approved for Highway 40 project:

East-West Gateway Council of Governments put the final funding in place today for the overhaul of Interstate 64 (Highway 40) between Sarah Street in St. Louis to Spoede Road in St. Louis County.

The regional planning agency approved $329 million in federal money for rebuilding the highway. At earliest, construction would start in early 2007. The Highway 40 work was among more than 175 other construction projects worth $1.1 billion that East-West Gateway approved. The money will be spent through 2009.

That marks the final portion of the anticipated funding, before the budget overruns.

Charitable Execution: A Nice Job If You Can Get It

Hidden in plain sight in the story Hotels taking fresh sheets off room-service menu, we get this tender nugget:

Barbara Huberman wants fresh sheets on her hotel bed every night.

She’s annoyed that a growing number of lodgings are now changing them less often. “It’s ridiculous,” says the executive for a Washington-based charitable organization who stays up to 100 nights each year in a hotel. “I have always looked forward to that feel of clean pressed sheets every night. At $200-plus a night, I think I deserve this.”

That sure looks like $20,000-plus a year from the charitable organization’s budget to get this executive into hotels where she thinks she deserves clean sheets every night.

Here’s the charitable organization: Advocates for Youth. Its goals:

Advocates for Youth is dedicated to creating programs and advocating for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates provides information, training, and strategic assistance to youth-serving organizations, policy makers, youth activists, and the media in the United States and the developing world.

Ah, one of those charities, whose goals is simply to advocate that someone else take action. Right, then. Carry on.

(Link seen on Outside the Beltway.)

Perhaps He Was Just Dodging ATM Fees

Latest in the UN Oil For Food scandal: Oil-for-food chief ‘has overseas accounts’:

Investigators in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal have discovered a network of overseas bank accounts operated by Benon Sevan, the former head of the United Nations programme, who is the subject of a criminal inquiry by New York prosecutors.

Officials from investigative agencies, including the UN’s Volcker inquiry, say that Mr Sevan has accounts in his native Cyprus, Turkey and Switzerland.

Hey, perhaps he was just avoiding punitive ATM fees and conversion rates when he travelled.

(Link seen on Roger L. Simon, that other guy with a fedora.)

Our Midwestern Givhan

Richard Roeper:

You probably read the stories or saw the footage of little John Roberts acting up as President Bush introduced John’s daddy, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. He wiggled and danced around, and generally acted like any 4-year-old would in such a formal situation. It was the most hilarious display of mischief by a politician’s son since Rudy Giuliani’s kid blew kisses to the crowd and pretended to take the oath of office when his father was sworn in as mayor of New York City.

But whose idea was it to dress the kid like a summertime version of Little Lord Fauntleroy? An Easter Egg-colored suit with short pants, white socks and saddle shoes? Was that a tribute to John-John circa 1962? That kid is going to be teased on a lot of playgrounds, even private school playgrounds, if he’s dressed like that in the future.

This, from the token skinny guy on the Ebert and ? show.