Sunday, November 29, 2009

Huckabee May Have Found a Running Mate

The ambush style murders of four Puget Sound area cops is understandably a shock to people across the nation.

While I have read no reports that Maurice Clemmons is anything more than a person whom the police would like to question in the killings, it does bring back into my consciousness the fact that prison terms are not just about the criminal. Prison terms for the convicted are justifiable to protect the public from violence, and forgetting that criminal incarceration is a vitally important tool for promoting the public safety is a mistake.

Maurice Clemmons is free today and mingling in the area. Why?

Clemmons' criminal history includes at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. The record also stands out for the number of times he has been released from custody despite questions about the danger he posed.

Clemmons had been in jail in Pierce County for the past several months on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child.

He was released from custody just six days ago, even though he was wanted on a fugitive warrant out of Arkansas and was staring at eight felony charges in all out of Washington state.
In his Arkansas history is this:
In 1990, Clemmons, then 18, was sentenced in Arkansas to 60 years in prison for burglary and theft of property, according to a news account. Newspaper stories describe a series of disturbing incidents involving Clemmons while he was being tried in Arkansas on various charges.

During one trial, Clemmons was shackled in leg irons and seated next to a uniformed officer. The presiding judge ordered the extra security because he felt Clemmons had threatened him, court records show.

Another time, Clemmons hid a hinge in his sock, and was accused of intending to use it as a weapon. Yet another time, Clemmons took a lock from a holding cell, and threw it toward the bailiff. He missed and instead hit Clemmons' mother, who had come to bring him street clothes, according to records and published reports.

On another occasion, Clemmons had reached for a guard's pistol during transport to the courtroom.

When Clemmons received the 60-year sentence, he was already serving 48 years on five felony convictions and facing up to 95 more years on charges of robbery, theft of property and possessing a handgun on school property. Records from Clemmons' sentencing described him as 5-foot-7 and 108 pounds. The crimes were committed when he was 17.

Clemmons served 11 years before being released.

News accounts say [then Governor Mike] Huckabee then commuted Clemmons' sentence, citing Clemmons' young age at the time the crimes were committed.
At this point who knows is Clemmons is the crazy thug that killed those officers, but his violent history and all-out-nuts thought processes should have been worth consideration when he was granted his freedom despite convictions and sentences that the state had already proven and justified.

Lee Atwater successfully made Willie Horton the running mate of Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign. We are still several years away from 2012, but Mike Huckabee may have found his running mate too.

Federal Funds at Risk!

This is about the umpteenth verse to a song that has been blaring in the taxpayers' ears ever since wise government operatives first decided to get involved in every facet of the lives' of its people.

Howard Myerson writes in the GR Press:

The House voted this month (76-26) to repeal riding restrictions on all state lands, opening every acre to horseback use if it was open in January 1999.

Their primary target is the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord. A 2008 decision by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources limited riding to certain trails and roads and closed others. It also eliminated cross-country riding.

State officials said it was needed to reduce the impact riders had on the forests, trails and wildlife there.

Riders devoted to Pigeon River Country understandably were upset. They had hoped for a better compromise than they got. They claimed the DNR trumped up its case.

Anger followed, and they got organized. HB 4610, introduced by Rep, Tim Moore, R-Farwell, is the result.

Moore's bill has good points. It calls for an Equine Trailways Advisory Council and the creation of an equestrian trail network on state land. But it also jeopardizes $24.8 million in federal funds the Michigan Department of Natural Resources receives annually from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- a loss the state cannot afford.
I am not a hunter or a horse rider so I'd like to sidestep the hunter versus the rider angle, but it seems to me as if everyone is a victim here.

What disturbs me most about this sort of thing is the threatened withholding or incidental loss of money if the taxed do not kowtow to a favored orthodoxy. The feds take the money from the citizens, and as soon as the citizens don't tow the line exactly as prescribed by the feds, there is a threat.

We see it with our schools (where not only the feds threaten the states but also the state tries to threaten the local districts,) we see it with health care, we see it on transportation, and we see it in land management. We see it everywhere that benevolent government has been allowed to prosper beyond its charter.

Tax dollars are squeezed out of the population so that those dollars (minus the predicated administration costs, of course) can be later used as leverage to mold behavior of those from whom the money has been taken. When Mom used to threaten me with withheld allowance at least it was her money to withhold. She didn't sneak into my piggy bank and steal my lawn mowing money in order to threaten me with it.

This whole tactic is insidious. We Americans and Michiganders are turning into sheep who have placed way too much trust in our shepherds.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Train Bombed in Russia

"[...] either militants from Russia's North Caucasus region or nationalist extremists, pro-Nazi groups"
are likely to blame.
"I think we can expect the Russian authorities to come up with some names soon, because this attack is politically very embarrassing.

"This is an expensive, high speed train, used by an elite which has been pushing to transfer parts of government functions to St Petersburg. We already have reports of several high-ranking government and local officials among the dead.

"Whoever is responsible, this attack clearly seems aimed not so much at the public, but directly at the ruling class."
Protestant militants from Russia's North Caucasus region would seem like persons of interest.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Post in Which I Agree With Iran

I haven't agreed with anything an official representative of Iran has said since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a group of well intentioned Mennonites a couple of years ago, "Hey, you infidels sure know how to make a good beef pot roast."

Now I must again agree with an Iranian official, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, this time having nothing to do with delicious Anabaptist cuisine; that the IAEA's latest resolution condemning Iran's nuclear program is both "theatrical" and "useless."

The UN nuclear watchdog's governing body has passed a resolution condemning Iran for developing a uranium enrichment site in secret.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also demanded that Iran freeze the project immediately.

The resolution, the first against Iran in nearly four years, was passed by a 25-3 margin with six abstentions.

But Iran's Foreign Ministry dismissed the resolution, calling its passage theatrical and useless.
It is theatrical and it is useless, because those delivering the condemnation will do nothing substantive about the program. Iran knows that historical rebukes mean nothing, and it knows that western civilization has effectively hunkered down philosophically into a position that accepts that there are worse things than having significant portions of the Earth living under a daily threat of nuclear annihilation (though Israel might have something to say about that.)

The west's strategy of engaging in a no-holds-barred dialog with evil, as if prodding it to change its spots will turn the leopard into a purring Persian cat, has purchased the murderous Iranian-mullah Islamist theocracy exactly what it has needed--a perceived global political legitimacy with its discouraged downtrodden masses, and an ability to pursue its nuclear quest within tolerable international political limits.

This latest rebuke will carry with it just about as much impact as the last several hundred have. Nothing.

And there you thought I could never agree with Iran. Give me a little credit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington

Tax the Rich!

cross posted at Right Michigan

Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith thinks that voters are of a frame of mind that they might do something radical next year. They have been pushed too far!

She believes that citizens have noticed the way that Michigan's state government has shut down in two of the last three budget processes. She believes that teachers, parents and children have noticed too that their school's funding has been under attack. She is pretty sure that voters have noticed that prisons have been closed and that police have been laid off, that the state fair is being shut down, that libraries are closing, and that somewhere on a vacant stretch of little used highway far from civilization, there is a pothole.

Alma Wheeler Smith is running for governor and as a long shot candidate, she needs an issue to make waves and get attention. Amidst the government shutdowns, the layoffs, the budget cutbacks, closed schools, sidelined police cruisers, shuttered libraries, empty pig stalls, and remote potholes, she thinks she may have found it, and it is radical.

Tax the rich!

She may be on to something too, for no appeal to any voter will resonate louder than the one that appeals to the worst in each of our human natures; a calling that goes right to the heart of our greed and our envy. Here, Smith gets a twofer as reported by Up North Live.

Tax the rich and get something for nothing!

A veteran Michigan lawmaker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate says she thinks Michigan voters will support swapping the state's flat income tax rate for a graduated one next year.
And why wouldn't the vast majority of voters at face value prefer a method of taxation that shifted more of the costs onto others? This is simply human nature.

It is, of course, an undisputed fact that at both the federal and state levels a vast majority of taxes are already being paid by the very few in the higher tax brackets. It is also an undisputed economic reality that punishing behavior (through higher taxation) gets less of that behavior. Conversely, as was proved during times of tax reductions, lower tax rates on all payers will create more tax revenues for the public coffers, but these things don't matter overmuch to political operatives needing an angle of attack.

So Smith plows on.
She unveiled her plan Tuesday morning at a Capitol news conference. She says a comprehensive solution is needed to fix Michigan's budget problems.

Democratic state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith also is hoping lawmakers will vote in the next two months to eliminate a business tax surcharge and some business tax breaks while lowering the sales tax rate to 5.5 percent and extending it to services.
Please note that all of her comprehensive components include either raising taxes (or shifting them around a bit to increase their bite overall) and include nothing substantive about reining in out of control spending. In fact, her plan veers off into the opposite direction when it comes to spending.
Smith's plan includes a new income tax credit that would completely cover tuition at a state university, community college or vocational school, or preschool costs.
This is the second part of the twofer, appealing to the "get something for nothing" crowd. This crowd, incidentally, is a favored historical Democrat constituency proven to be willing to support a candidate for incentives a lot smaller than the cost of free tuition.

Of course the question of the hour is this. If we cannot squeeze enough revenue out of the taxpayers of Michigan to adequately fund our public schools and cannot pay the Promise Grant to current college students, how on Earth will there ever be enough money in the system to support this sort of grand larceny?

Each dollar that is sucked out of the taxpayer's pocket for benevolent redistribution is another dollar than cannot be spent on goods and services in the private sector. Our economy has already reached the saturation point and simply cannot absorb more taxation. All increased taxation now directly results in a shrinking of the tax base as blown away businesses close down and blown away potential workers have to flee to areas where jobs are being created by robust economies.

P.T. Barnum once said that there is a sucker born every minute, and Alma Wheeler Smith, while being a devotee of Barnum's, nonetheless hopes that he greatly underestimated the birth rate of voting suckers, at least here in Michigan.

She needs the sucker vote, and she is willing to promise to pay for it with the tax dollars of those citizens and businesses who have yet to buy a padlock or book a U-Haul. She had better hurry for there isn't much time left.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NPR's Take on the Leaked Climate Emails (Really, I Heard the Program)

Much is being made of the assumed hacked (but possibly leaked) CRU emails that have popped up all over the internet.

For those of you unaware, the leaked emails produced evidence that climate scientists were engaging in systematic deceit. Climate science, those who have studied the emails charge, has become too politicized.

To drive the point home, NPR dragged out NASA climate expert James Hansen in this evening's edition of All Things Considered.

In fact, one of the world's most celebrated climate scientists says the review system has gotten so distorted, it's even thwarting him. James Hansen at NASA's Goddard Institute argues that the consensus view of global warming actually understates the risks. In his new book, Storms of my Grandchildren, he writes that he wanted to publish a big paper critical of the consensus view, but he had "no realistic chance of publishing it in a regular scientific journal" because he assumed the reviewers would reject it to defend their centrist point of view.
In a disclosure story where the evidence is tearing at the liberal scientific community for its political deceit, NPR has found an angle that accepts the tenor of the accusation, but declares an unexpected victim--green climate hysterics.

When it comes to deceit and drowning out contrary opinions, climate scientists have nothing on National Socialist Radio.

Lansing One More Time

This is a long one.

To Lansing this morning for ortho. To St. Ignace from Lansing. To Oscoda County from St. Ignace.

I hope to be home by midnight. I hate days like this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Medal or Court Marshal?

One of the baddest of the bad guys in Iraq has been captured by American forces. The terrorist in question, Ahmed Hashim Abed, is the kingpin behind the torture deaths of four BlackWater USA contractors in Fallujah whose charred bodies were left hanging on the side of a bridge.

Here is the twist. In our new world of fighting terrorists with a copy of the US Constitution, Abed has sued his captors. From FoxNews:

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.
What a country.

h/t Michelle Malkin

Monday, November 23, 2009

More AGW Threats

While writing my previous post I found this list from the Heritage Foundation highlighting 100 things for which AGW is being blamed.

Late for a party? Miss a meeting? Forget to pay your rent? Blame climate change; everyone else is doing it. From an increase in severe acne to all societal collapses since the beginning of time, just about everything gone wrong in the world today can be attributed to climate change. Here’s a list of 100 storylines blaming climate change as the problem.
List is here.

AGW Causing Prostitution

Calamitous global climate change is forcing poor third world women into the flesh trade according to a UN official. What seems to be missed by the wise Suneeta Mukherjee is that it is the lack of wealth that drives most people into poverty and forces people already suffering from poverty to stay there.

And it is poverty itself that overwhelmingly serves as the bludgeon that knocks people into the sex trades, not the alleged (and disputed) rise in Earth's temperature of 0.74 degrees Celsius.

Yet, it is poverty promoting measures such as the ones to be divined at the Copenhagen conference that the UN is pushing to solve a problem that has existed since halitosis suffering fat ugly perverts first discovered a heavy coin purse could buy more than merely gruel and ale.

Three Points Essential To Climate Change Negotiations

Among observers, the consensus is that, in order to achieve that sort of success, three points must be agreed upon.

  • Mid- and long-term goals for reductions in greenhouse gases
  • Financial support for newly industrialized countries and developing countries from developed nations
  • Technology transfer to poorer countries
Global wealth redistribution, or international welfare, is an essential ingredient that UN authorities believe it must ultimately achieve in order to save the planet, and the UN's Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen is a critical step along that path for the world body. All the other arguments are merely window dressing.

That mandated global reductions in CO2 emissions will help to cripple the world economy seems to have little import to these people, and by default, the crocodile tears being shed by international bureaucrats over prostitutes in Manila seems more than a bit forced. A bad world economy will compel more people to wander into prostitution than any CO2 action being pushed by the UN will ever prevent.

They know this, they simply don't care. It doesn't fit the narrative.

h/ts to Watts and Drudge

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Harry Reid: Worker of Miracles

It is almost a joke these days as to how much people believe that the government can cure their ills.

Broke? They can fix that.

Unemployed? They can fix that.

Uneducated? They can fix that too.

Fearful of "illness and death"? Even that can be fixed by government if Harry Reid is allowed to talk about it long enough.

“Today we vote whether to even discuss one of the greatest issues of our generation – indeed, one of the greatest issues this body has ever face: whether this nation will finally guarantee its people the right to live free from the fear of illness and death, which can be prevented by decent health care for all.
Gosh, who wouldn't want to be guaranteed the right to live free from the fear of illness and death?

Our Senate has morphed from a political body into a hall of Angels. If they have the power to cure us of our fear of death and illness, why don't they just wave an angelic hand and miraculously cure all of our diseases to begin with instead of birthing some entanglement of bureaucracies whose primary cost saving feature will be the creation of a big ass queue?

h/t Darlene at Protein Wisdom who says
Who the hell can hear this statement and not want to reach for the phone and call 911 and have Reid 5150′d?

Friday, November 20, 2009

News That Couldn't Come At A Better Time

The arrogance of government is often hard to stomach.

Here we are struggling in the midst of what is the greatest economic global collapse in nearly 100 years. This collapse is a gift to this country and the world from our benevolent overlords whose intestines get tied in knots whenever they detect either inequality between private citizens or private enterprise freely taking place without government's direct involvement.

Despite our government's inability to even deliver mail without a multibillion dollar shortfall, predict unemployment more than a couple of months in the future, or teach school children where the Earth is on a globe, it thinks it can predict the mature form of industries that are yet in their infancy. (Do we even need to mention that the industry-child is a cloned creation of government implanted into the womb of a surrogate mother?)

If only given the opportunity to look into an expensive taxpayer financed crystal ball, it feels it will be able to determine what jobs unemployed workers should start training for on more of the taxpayer's dime.

The U.S. Secretary of Labor announced this morning that Michigan will share a $4 million pot of federal stimulus funds with Indiana and Ohio to collect information about the labor market and help workers and businesses enter renewable energy industries.

On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was joined by U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek. and others to discuss how the grant will help auto manufacturers looking to diversify and workers who have lost their jobs find employment in the green energy sector.

Schauer said this will help a number of businesses in his district, which includes Jackson.

“This news couldn’t come at a better time,” he said.
Ya, this really is a great time to witness that our government continues to be willing to toss good money after bad. This in a failing economy that it helped nurture by spending borrowed money on stupid shit like this that will not make a blip's worth of difference in anyone's life other than the people that will be paid to collect the data.

If bureaucrats had to pony up their own money to perpetuate this nonsense it would stop cold in its tracks. It is unaccountable, it is incorrigible, and it is spending our money for the sake of spending our money.

Indeed, this sort of news could never come at a better time. Where can I apply for one of these data collecting jobs?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Chapter in Stimulus Idiocy

From QandO:

This one is right out of the “you’ve got to be kidding me” category.

It seems that stimulus funds, you know that 787 billion bill without an “ounce” of pork in it, are funding a study at the University of Illinois (wow, there’s a surprise) to look at “the relationship between fat taxes and food consumption, diet quality, and obesity.”

In reality it is a study to assess the feasibility of taxing soda, under the guise of fighting obesity, to fund health care reform. You remember all the trial balloons that were launched earlier in the year concerning this tax? Well, now taxpayers are funding research to figure out if it is feasible to further tax taxpayers.
Grubbing as much money as can be gotten out of the wallets of the innocent has become the new American pastime.

Remote, Pristine, Undeveloped and Poor: Just the Way They Like It

cross posted at Right Michigan

It is easy to identify the geographic division between Michigan's two peninsulas. The Straits of Mackinac provides a clearly visible deep blue barrier between the two disparate land masses. Even though they are today connected by a mighty ribbon of concrete and steel that stretches the five miles between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, the human division is sometimes a bit harder to detect.

The two areas, while now sharing a statehood and a bridge, have lived quite different lives and have not always been the most understanding of neighbors. In fact, it was a shotgun marriage of sorts that got the two together in the first place with the pre-statehood Michigan legislature in 1836 finally accepting the U.P. as a booby prize in its war with Ohio over the Toledo Strip. It wasn't long after this however that mining proved that there was indeed great intrinsic value in the Upper Peninsula if one only cared look beneath the surface of the Earth.

During the years since the wedding there have been many freezings and thawings of the relationship. Generally there was tolerance but there were also some spats. A few dozen years ago there was even a movement afoot to turn the U.P. into the 51st state of Superior, a movement that left me deeply upset for having been left out of the plan.

As Detroit boomed by selling high quality Gremlins, Vegas, Pintos, and Pacers to discerning buyers from places like Ishpeming and Hessel, the mining sector of the U.P.s economy was already struggling. The opening of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957 helped to replace some of the area's reliance on the waning mining industry by making the U.P. more accessible to the thick wallets owned by those on Detroit's payroll.

By 1995 the last of the copper mines had been closed and today iron ore is only mined in the Marquette area. Detroit's major industry has fared a bit better (okay, arguable) as portions of it only tentatively hang on, and even that much due in part to the support of U.P. taxpayers.

Those early year attitudes have changed toward the U.P. While it was once considered a sterile wilderness, it is now a coveted vacation destination to be scenically enjoyed from the deck of a boat, to the seat of a snowmobile, to the back of a horse, though I wouldn't recommend all in one day. Most of these weekenders want the region to remain a wilderness and unblemished by any future mining ventures, regardless of how many of those scraping by on meager restaurant tips and the sales of smoked whitefish feel about it.

There are a few northern state legislators from the solidly democratic Upper Peninsula that are tiring of being thought of as a tourist only region, especially in light of a renewed interest in the U.P.'s mineral potential.

Five of the six legislators that represent any part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Sen Mike Prusi, Sen. Jason Allen, Rep. Mike Lahti, Rep. Steve Lindberg, and Rep. Judy Nerat, signed on to a press release that attacked Detroit area activists for a ballot proposal that would severely restrict future mining operations in the U.P. under the "guise" of water safety. All but Allen are Democrats.

In a state where divisions between people and regions have held us back for far too long, we can’t help but look askance at proposals that divide our state, rather than unite us.

As elected leaders from the U.P., we view a recently-announced ballot proposal to ban mining under the clever guise of protecting water to be nothing more than an attack by special interests on the U.P. and its people, heritage, and economic future. The people of the U.P. should have the right to decide what is in their region’s best interest. Additionally, a statewide precedent could be set where ballot initiatives could negatively impact other industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, or siting of renewable energy facilities.
The Upper Peninsula is solidly Democrat. Not only are all the state representatives from the UP Democrats, but the only state senator whose district is totally within the U.P. is a Democrat. Democrat Bart Stupak represents all of the U.P. as well as much of the northern lower peninsula in the US House. To add insult to injury, Jennifer Granholm and Barack Obama received a majority of U.P. votes cast in their last elections.

Let us be honest. If there was ever a region outside of the city of Detroit that more deserved to suffer the consequences of dumb votes cast, it is Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And yet, there might be a slight shaking of the foundation.

For many years it has been the Democrat Party that pushed initiatives that favored collective causes over the desires of the individual. A great democrat philosopher once put it perfectly..."the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one." Unfortunately for the Yoopers hoping to find economic deliverance from renewed mining interests, they are now outnumbered by many others from Michigan's south side that feel that the whitefish and pastie industries should be plenty for Yoopers to live on. I understand too that Spock absolutely loves him some pasties.

If people from Michigan's U.P. (and indeed from all of its rural areas) want to preserve their ability to look after their own best interests, they will make it much easier on themselves if the stop buying into a political philosophy that prevents the individual or the few from having to succumb to the desires of the many. Individual rights are the backbone of this country, and this is the reason that our Founding Fathers feared democracy rather than embrace it (despite what you might hear blathered about by today's politicians on National Socialist Radio.)

Our Founding Fathers did not want distant Kings controlling the citizenry any more that they would want Detroit and Washington DC. area lawyers and vacationers controlling the economic destiny of Marquette and Iron Mountain.
The U.P.’s business, labor, and governmental leaders are already coalescing around efforts to defeat this ill-timed and ill-intentioned proposal. Just this past October, the Upper Peninsula Association of County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing the ballot proposal. We will stand with them in their efforts and oppose this attempt by narrow, selfish interests from below the bridge to impose their will on those of us proud to call the U.P. home.
Perhaps the solidly Democrat Upper Peninsula is waking up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Everyone should read Mark Steyn's column from last Friday.

There are ten solid quotes that just jumped off the page at me but I'll only tease you with one:

“Diversity” is one of those words designed to absolve you of the need to think. Likewise, a belief in “multiculturalism” doesn’t require you to know anything at all about other cultures, just to feel generally warm and fluffy about them.
Please read it.

You can find all of Mark's writing at Steyn Online.

In the UK, A Man's Home is His Nanny's Castle

In another step toward the dark abyss, the UK is drawing up regulations that would allow health/safety inspectors unprecedented access into private homes for the purpose of preventing childhood accidents.

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.
What kind of a stretch is it from here to assume that these same benevolent servants of the state will be headed back every few months to check battery strength, whether the water temperature gauges have been fiddled with, or whether gates at the top of stairways are in place at all times?

When inside the house, what other potential negative situations do you suppose will be encouraged to be reported? Will objectionable reading materials be cause for alarm, or will the recycling police be alerted should a parent here or there not be separating their plastics properly? Will refrigerators be checked for balanced diets? What if, gasp, out of season fruits are on the table?
Nice [National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] also recommends the creation of a new government database to allow GPs, midwives and other officials who visit homes to log health and safety concerns they spot.

The guidance aims to “encourage all practitioners who visit families and carers (sic) with children and young people aged under 15 to provide home safety advice and, where necessary, conduct a home risk assessment”. It continues: “If possible, they should supply and install home safety equipment.”
This should really keep the midwives hopping. I can hear it now. "Ma'am, your water just broke. I'll go boil some water, collect some clean linens, and head to the truck for a smoke alarm."

A h/t to Bruce at Q and O who opines
Two things at work here – one of which we’re all familiar, even in the US. This is what? It is “for the children”. All manner of state intrusion is prefaced by claiming it is “for the children”. Which brings us to the second thing – the assumption by the state that parents are too dumb and inept to properly care for their children. While this is true of some, certainly, the standard is applied to all. And we’ve certainly seen evidence that the state is so much better, haven’t we?

So why does the state not only feel the necessity but right to intrude at such a level?
About 100,000 children are admitted to hospital each year for home injuries at a cost of £146m.
Well, creating a whole new bureaucracy for the purpose of installing fire alarms and window latches won't be cheap but, after all, the right to the freedom of children from suffering accidental injury cannot be exactly free.

So, lets just call it even on the expenses side of the equation--savings in accidents minus the cost of midwife spies and AAA batteries. As for the liberty side, citizens dumb enough to expose their children to unnecessary risks might not even notice that their freedoms are being trampled.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to see the once proud UK just keel over and die rather than having to watch it slowly rot away like an Alzheimer's patient. Having given up most of its sovereignty to the EU already, many of its citizens seem more than willing to cede what little freedom it still has to the remaining nannies inside its own country.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stabenow Speaks on Health Care

What is it with our esteemed overlords in that they cannot go after fraud and waste until another $1 trillion or so dollars are pumped into the system?

It has been said, wisely I might add, that you have to follow the money. Large pools of dollars themselves create the potential for fraud and abuse. Management of pools of money this large become, almost by definition, impossible to rid of abuse. A small budget of, for argument's sake, $100 is easy to watch. Each transaction can be evaluated as to its need. This becomes less and less true as the amounts of money reach into the millions, billions, and trillions.

As money pools reach astronomical levels, more and more individuals have to enter the system as overseers and administrators. Each and every one of these added individuals is another crack through which lost money may flow. A fifty dollar transaction in a $100 budget is large enough to pay attention to. A million dollar expense in a budget of several hundred billion becomes like a drop to a bucket.

Debbie Stabenow believes another $1 trillion is necessary to be pumped into the health care system. It is only then that bureaucrats like her will be bothered enough to take the time to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse already contained therein. It is this promised to be saved money that Stabenow says will help finance the overall cost of nationalized health care as supported by today's politicians. She avers, in essence, that by adding $1 trillion to the size of a program, abuse and fraud will become easier to detect and stamp out. This goes against all reason.

Adding a trillion dollars to the health care system will not alleviate fraud and abuse but will make more of it a certainty, and will make it necessary to borrow even more money from our grandchildren to compensate.

Like Dr. Peter Venkman said in Ghostbusters, "Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no job is too big, no fee is too big!"

I'd be a bit more comforted if Debbie Stabenow and company weren't taking their cues from a Hollywood comedy writing team.

The Apologist in Chief

We all know that Barack Obama thinks that America sucks. This was evident by his many anti-American associations prior to his ever becoming elected president, and from a number of the statements he has made both before and after he took the highest office of the country he dislikes so much.

It was, in fact, a major cornerstone of his foreign policy during the election, and has remained a part of it now that he is Commander in Chief.

America was wrong. It is sorry. Forgive it. It will be better behaved. It sucks.

While this attitude was disturbing to me from day one of his campaign, it has become infinitely more disturbing now that Obama has the keys to Air Force One and a long list of foreign countries more than willing to accept America's apology for all the evil things it has done in the name of unilateralism, imperialism, and George Bush.

Hope and change for America has meant, in foreign policy circles at least, turning our back on and insulting allies, groveling at the feet of evil dictators, and the commencement of a new era of emboldened enemies.

I see nothing good coming out of it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deficit Perspective

I thought it would be nice to be able to see a bit of perspective.

Everyone here in Michigan knows that the state is flat broke. Governor Granholm is hinting at a 20% reduction in the size of state government, school districts just took a huge hit on their per pupil foundation grant, prisons are closing, police are being laid off, scholarships have been slashed, and local governments are taking it on the chin because Lansing has chopped its support.

All of these cuts, and countless more, have occurred or may occur in the near future because the state faced a nearly $2 billion debt when it had to present a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year and because tax revenues, despite tax and fee increases, are continuing to plummet. If not for the bailout money that Granholm diverted from stimulus projects, the state would have had to make much deeper cuts.

$2 billion in its annual budget does sound like a lot of money. Good grief, how much is that these days, about 250,000,000 packs of smokes?

Here comes the promised the month of October alone, the federal government racked up a deficit of $176.36 billion dollars.

The good news is that at least it was a 31 day month.

So, for each day in October, including Saturdays and Sundays, the federal government went more that twice as far in debt as the state of Michigan did the entire year of 2008, a year that saw Michigan nearly paralyzed because of funding issues.

We are so screwed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Michigan Proves How Destitute It Is

by approving funds to build a $25.3 million Great Lakes Research Center.

The state is to pay 74 percent of the cost and the university 26 percent.

The 49,000-square-foot center will house laboratories, boat maintenance facilities, offices and conference rooms. It also will accommodate joint activities of researchers from Michigan Tech and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' environmental lab in Vicksburg, Miss.
I cannot wait until next year's budget debacle when hand wringing bureaucrats will lament the absence of money to keep schools open and prisoners behind bars. Nothing that a good old fashioned tax increase won't solve.

KSM to be Tried in NYC (Idiots)

I am not the only person that thinks that holding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's criminal trial in NYC reaches a new threshold of stupidity.

As the BBC gleefully points out:

They say he has admitted being responsible "from A to Z" for the 9/11 attacks.

Believed to be the number three al-Qaeda leader, he was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.

He told a pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo in December 2008 that he wanted to plead guilty to all charges against him.

But intelligence memos released earlier this year revealed he had been subjected to harsh interrogation techniques including water-boarding on multiple occasions since his capture - potentially rendering some evidence inadmissible.
The guy is a hardened terrorist who has done more than plan the murder of thousands of Americans for he has also slit an American neck or two himself.

A criminal trial brings many more dynamics into play. Was KSM read his Miranda rights when he was taken into custody? Did he get a lawyer when one was requested? Did his counsel have free access to him? Did he give up information while being tortured? On and on and on.

The possibility that KSM will be acquitted precisely because Barack Obama and Eric Holder like to play politics with national security is higher than many would think.

Talk About Jobs

How will a jobs summit benefit the people who are out of work?

Will some epiphany strike the forum leaders? Will some new morsel that has never before occurred to anyone, come out of this summit and help revolutionize our economy? Or, more likely, will sound and established economic theory be pushed aside again by government hobnobs in favor of feel good policies that will ultimately punish those most productive in our society in favor of workers who cannot practice any trade without an employer?

We already know how to create jobs in this country. The problem is that the jobs we have proven we can create come at a cost that government officials are not willing to pay. They are not going to be willing to have a disparity of income so they must punitively tax the rich and vilify corporations. They are not going to allow favored constituencies to suffer without earmarked payoffs. They are not going to go forward without a system in place that will allow them to methodically spread the wealth around among citizens of this country and citizens of the world. They are not going to allow the country to grow naturally and robustly when sustained economic growth ultimately results in CO2 output.

This job summit will be a grand opportunity for this administration to talk in emotional terms about solutions that cannot be reached with emotional abandon.

We know how to create jobs in this country, but ten percent unemployment is more palatable to the powers that be than is five percent unemployment where the rich control too large a percentage of the pie. As long as we are afraid to lavishly reward the most productive members of our society we will be tamping down on their productivity and the jobs they create.

For some odd reason I do not believe this will be a theme of Obama's job summit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Impenetrable Brain of Dan Scripps

cross posted at Right Michigan

Michigan Rep. Daniel Scripps works in an office where the walls have been so well insulated from distractions that even a whisper of the loudest of outside events cannot seem to penetrate its fortress. In fact, all of Scripps' senses have been so protected from the human condition here in Michigan that if an unemployed and destitute constituent was tossed through one of Scripps' high energy office windows onto the representative's pristine plush pile carpeting, he could nonchalantly step over the bleeding body to the mirror without even breaking stride.

This is the consistent and dedicated vision we taxpayers look for in a wannabe career politician; a focus on the Utopian future so unblinking and unyielding that smacking the representative up side the head with a rotten carp wrapped in newsprint wouldn't get his attention.

Even if the carp had little impact on Scripps' world, it would be sweet if he took a moment to read the headlines in the newspaper that surrounded it.

Michigan has the highest unemployment rate among all of Barack Obama's 57 states at 15.3 percent. His district, while enjoying an unemployment rate below the state average, has about twice as many people out of work as it did a year ago at this time, and still suffers an unemployment rate higher than all other states but California, Rhode Island and Nevada. No wonder the big lug can focus so clearly on the things that truly matter.

Retail spending is down all over. GDP, if you ignore the deficit spending of the federal government, is down too. House values have dropped while foreclosures have risen. Many of those who have yet to rent an outbound moving van are simply waiting until they can unload their current house at a considerable loss, and all of this is taking place at a time when cherubic little Jeffrey's classroom has just gained four desks so that the district can lay off a couple more teachers.

Let's look at some basic economic truths.

People who are out of work do not spend as much money as they did when they were working. People who fear they might lose their jobs do not spend as much money as they did when they felt their jobs were secure. People who have solid jobs but fear the government is going to increase their taxes in a never ending quest to reconstitute diminishing revenues, do not spend as much money as they once did because they know they will need the money to quench big brother's thirst. With people generally pumping less money into the economy for these various reasons, the businesses that remain open contract farther causing more people to lose their jobs, nervous people who keep their jobs to spend even less, and the confidently employed to again cut back in order to satisfy that ever present glint in the tax man's eye. Wash, rinse, repeat as necessary.

This pattern is undisputed.

It is within this downward economic spiral that Dan Scripps is able to do his admirable best at focusing on peripheral items as if the tempest was occurring in someone else's back yard. How could he better prove such unbending focus than by suggesting a $145 million fee increase on citizens and businesses for waste disposal? The fee hike amounts to an increase of approximately 3500% with the additional dollars supposedly used by the state to promote recycling. (I don't guess there is any chance the state might abscond with some of these dollars and apply them to different causes like they did with the tobacco settlement money or the feds did with social security.)

In Dan's mind there is no consideration for unintended consequences. It will certainly not promote the extra burning of paper and plastics in burn barrels, will not result in many thousands of couches to be dumped in the back woods, will not increase the number of paper wrappers blowing like aimless tumbleweeds through the streets of Leland, nor will it help in the creation of countless unmonitored personal landfills, for those things are illegal!

Will more items be recycled? Yes. Will more items also be dumped along the highway and burned out back because the punishment for being a good little citizen just got a lot more expensive? Yes. Another thing to consider is how many more jobs will be lost when $145 million additional dollars are sucked out of the pockets of those who do business and live in this state.

Is now the right time to remove from struggling citizens and businesses another $145 million so that Dan Scripps can feel good about himself for attempting to nudge the rest of us toward a more perfect future? Or, would it perhaps be a better time instead for Scripps to walk outside of his fortified office to buy himself a non carp-stained newspaper with current events splashed across the front page?

If there was ever a time not to raise taxes, this is it. If there was ever a time to leave discretionary dollars in the pockets of citizens, this is it. If there was ever a time for politicians to begin to reflect on the total consequences of the edicts they pronounce from on high, this is it. And, if there was ever a time for the voters of Michigan to recognize what they have done by electing a candidate to office who would purposefully perpetuate this disastrous economy for a pet cause, this is it.

Trashing the Earth will have consequences for which this and all future generations will be forced to endure. These consequences, however, will be no more severe than the ones suffered by a state and country forever mired in the muck created by high minded politicians wearing exquisitely adorned blinders. What Scripps has managed to do here is to cook up a scheme that will not only promote unlawful dumping, but will at the same time manage to hurt everyday citizens struggling to make ends meet. Who knows, maybe with a little more time and effort Scripps can come up with a way to make his bill harmful to cute little wiener dog puppies.

I have a question Dan, and maybe you can bear with me on this. Why don't the overlords in Lansing make substantive changes to our state's oppressive business choking regulations before they start touting additional legislation that will make it even harder for businesses to recover?

Could it be any more obvious that the leaders in Lansing are either not keeping up on current events or have simply decided they can live with what is happening because it promotes their greater cause? There is no other plausible explanation for this sort of legislation at this point in history.

A carp wrapped in newsprint knows better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shut Up and Serve Us Fries!

So said the affluent environmentalist Grosse Pointe tourists to the otherwise unemployed locals north of the Mackinac Bridge.

A Trip to Mexico

I will be unable to post on much of anything until later today, so I thought you might enjoy a short essay my daughter wrote about a mission trip she took to Mexico last spring. As a 17 year old high school junior, I think she learned a lesson about the benefits of growing up on American soil and of living in a nation founded with Judeo/Christian values by men who dared to look tyranny in the eye.

It was April 2, 2009 and my mission’s team of 12 started out from Detroit Metro Airport. Two flights and seven long hours later, I was in Mazatlan, Mexico, packed into an old, rundown van and heading for the orphanage, Rancho de los Niños. It didn’t take long for me to appreciate this new world, and even shorter still, was the length of time it took for me to realize how oddly beautiful Mexico was. We passed many houses, all were squat, windowless, and concrete—most were adorned with graffiti and shaded only by the occasional palm tree. In the yards were chickens, cows, and wild, half-starved dogs. There were piles of rubble, streets lined with windswept trash, and everything was seemingly neglected. Despite these discordant images, Mazatlan was simply captivating.

Even after herding goats and the first of many cockroaches out of our accommodations (a goat pen) at Rancho de los Niños, the thrill known only to travelers was thus made apparent to me. Even after discovering our shower, a mere pipe sticking out from the wall, and the iguana infestation, I knew that the mission’s trip was to be the greatest experience of my life. Then, when I could have burst from happiness, when my trip was surely at its peak, my life was given purpose—purpose that took the shape of 23 little children. Despite the language barrier, we were soon swept up in games and laughter. Play, I quickly discovered, is universal. Before long, amongst the Crayola and Nerf toys the team had brought for the children, I met my life-changer. Inni was an energetic, loving and beautiful five-year-old girl—unwanted and consequently abandoned to the orphanage.

Our world is full of suffering and little Inni, an orphan in a third world country, has known her fair share. Living in America, it was easy to forget the lives outside my own and to take for granted all that I had. Never again.

Inni once led me to her area, a little bunk beside many others. It was clad in hand-me-down blankets and covered with clothes she had outgrown long before. With a secretive smile and a single finger pressed to her lips, she pulled up her mattress and showed me her most prized possession. It was a coloring book, faded and ripped, left by the mission’s team the previous year. This beautiful girl, content with a single coloring book yet deserving of so much more, broke my heart. I had gone to Mexico hoping to comfort orphans, but when I cried for Inni that day, while looking at her coloring book, she was the one to hug me.

For the next two weeks, in between other projects the team undertook, Inni and I grew very close. I never could have imagined, however, the magnitude of strength it took to say goodbye to her. Sadly on April 11, a day too soon in coming, it was time to leave. Before Mexico, I always thought traveling meant seeing the world: going places few have, the sites, the beautiful locations. Now, when I think back to Mexico, I seldom think of beautiful landscaping. Instead, my thoughts stray to Inni and the other children. Perhaps traveling isn’t so much where you go, but who you meet and the friends you make. Yes, I got to see exotic flowers and stunning beaches; however, scenery, and the memory of it, is fleeting and hardly life-altering. That aged coloring book, smashed under a mattress, was more beautiful than any view, and even more beautiful still, were the little hands that held it.
She hopes to return this year as well.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Europe We Adore: Parenting Edition

I know that some children slip through the cracks and that they are the least able victims to protect themselves against abuse. It saddens me that any child would ever be abused by anyone.

Yet, parents have children, and as far as I'm concerned, until God creates a decent replacement for Mom and Dad, parents will provide children with the best chance for success and love. When a child is abused, by all means, get the child out of the situation.

I'm not certain, however, that I've ever seen a more misguided gaggle of overbearing nutjobs like the nannystate buttinskys they have in the UK right now. A few weeks ago I highlighted a story in which parents were having their small children removed from their home because the state feared the younger children might become obese.

This week three more stories come out of the UK. Daily Mail links all.

First, a mother is tracked down by police for threatening her misbehaving children with a slap at the checkout counter at the market. Her punishment is that she will be under the watchful eye of the government until her youngest child, a four years old daughter, graduates from school in another 14 years.

Next, the Scottish government at the last minute has denied the approval of a marriage between two people because the pregnant bride-to-be may not be intelligent enough. Is the state thinking that an unmarried mother is better for the child than a married one, or are her fears justified that the state may indeed plan to take the child after birth?

Finally, the NHS has again stuck their nose in the business of a woman 11 weeks pregnant because the apartment she is living in is under construction. (Perhaps she should simply lie and thereby comfort the social workers by saying that she plans on aborting. You know, no harm, no foul.)

These stories are frightening if they come at all close to mirroring the normal state of things in the UK. And this is the European model we are looking to emulate?

Teaching Carpools in Driver's Safety

There are few words that can accurately describe the idiocy of some of the people that we intentionally elect to public office. Seriously, these guys ran for office against live people! I could see them getting elected if they were running against a can of Spam, John Corzine, or a hookworm, but against a serious candidate? How does it occur?

If we tossed darts out of an airplane we would have a 90% chance of hitting someone with a bigger clue than Rep. Bert Johnson (D-City In Ruin) has ever had in his life, and a 100% chance of hitting someone with a smaller ego than Dan Scripps (D-Stryker's back pocket.)

Their latest brainchild is a bill that would make it necessary for driving schools to emphasize to their students the importance of carpooling, the benefits of fuel efficient cars, how to maximize fuel efficiency while driving, and recycling fuels and parts. I wonder if they will also propose in subsequent bills that driving schools teach their students that big gas guzzlers, while less fuel efficient, are a lot safer than driving Smart Cars.

Are they thinking that there is no other arm of government that currently toots the horn of fuel efficiency and energy conservation? As I commented over at The Blog Prof's (who gets the h/t on this,) Michigan is a state that is supposedly trying to find duplications in its operations so that it can cut the fat and operate more efficiently. Now we have dipsticks like Johnson and Scripps intentionally going out and finding new ways in which to duplicate the efforts of our benevolent government. Who are the slow learners here? Of course any added costs necessary to this enlightened learning experience will be passed on to prospective drivers (or most likely their parents) and taxpayers in this sour economy where nobody has enough money, especially parents with teenage children.

I like this planet and I like saving money, but I'm particularly fond of my own two teenagers (sans the not picking up bit,) and I don't think I'm too far off base when I say that driver's safety is called driver's SAFETY for a reason, and I want instruction in driver's safety class to emphasize safety, not the flavor of the month environmentalism.

Scripps and Johnson must think that all of this is necessary, I suppose, because slow learning kids have failed miserably in picking up on things in the environmentally charged classrooms of today, and because knuckle dragging parents such as myself are not fully capable of prioritizing our kids' at home learning opportunities as well as Misters Johnson and Scripps would like. Maybe we could get these cranial marvels to mandate that kids pick up after themselves too.

Do you think that teens will absorb and adopt the cost and health benefits of carpooling better than they have the anti-smoking message they've been hearing from the government and parents since they were about two? (Particularly with smokes at about $8.00 per pack and the coolest President evah avoiding all cameras when he lights up.)

If looking at gruesome pictures of lip tumors and blackened cancerous lungs isn't enough to get teens and a president from using tobacco, and watching videos of people torn apart because they were driving too fast isn't enough to get them to slow down, how on God's green Earth is cajoling teenage NASCAR fans into slowing down to gain an extra three miles per gallon going to do the trick? One thing is certain, turning off the gruesome video in favor of an air pressure gauge slide show is going to be riveting.

If you cannot do it for the safety, do it for the planet!

Despite A Muslim Imam's Praise, Hasan Does Not Represent Muslim Faith

The Muslim terrorist who murdered 13 people at Fort Hood last week and who does not represent the Muslim faith, has been praised by an American imam who also does not represent the Muslim faith.

From the USAToday:

The personal website for a radical American imam living in Yemen who had contact with two Sept. 11 hijackers is praising alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a hero.

The posting Monday on the website for Anwar Aulaqi, who was a spiritual leader at two mosques where three Sept. 11 hijackers worshipped, said American Muslims who condemned the attacks on the Texas military base last week are hypocrites who have committed treason against their religion.

Two U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press the website was Aulaqi's. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence collection.

Aulaqi said the only way a Muslim can justify serving in the U.S. military is if he intends to "follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal."
Hopefully the unIslamic examples given by people like Hasan, Aulaqi, and Muhammad himself can be effectively interpreted for the rest of us by the all-knowing Janet Napolitano.
"This was an individual who does not represent the Muslim faith."
Which, I'm certain, will make those thirty plus people still recovering from gunshots feel a whole lot better.

Conyers Wants some Head Knocking

In 1965, when John Conyers first took office in the House of Representatives, Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States. Conyers still has a soft spot in his heart for those early years when his future wife Monica was in diapers and members of his own political party were trashing the Civil Rights Act.

Conyers remains sentimental over that political period and wishes that Barack Obama would be more like LBJ when it comes to pushing through legislation that will be disastrous to America, just like most of LBJ's Great Society initiatives were.

"the president could take a few pages from Lyndon Johnson's book ... and start knocking heads together."
Perhaps so. And then the rest of America could spend another fifty years trying to undo all the damage. John Conyers is so blind that he cannot look at the city of Detroit today and see the damage that the good intentions of government programs can do.

Then again, what can you say about a politician whose wisest political move ever may have been in the asking for his future wife's hand? I presume that is what keeps those visions of "knocking heads together" so fresh.

Friday, November 06, 2009

New Education Fellowship in Michigan

I read with interest an article on Mlive/Bay City Times concerning this.

Public education received a boost today when Governor Granholm announced a new Michigan teaching fellowship thanks in part to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The new teaching fellowship, valued at $16.7 million, will benefit 20,000 public school students in the state. The program will retrain 240 new math and science teachers to teach in middle and high schools across the state that need teachers in those subjects.

“Over a period of five years, almost 20,000 Michigan public school students will receive high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and math from these new teachers,” said Granholm in a release.
Unless these teachers will somehow be tethered to the state of Michigan I don't know how she can say that 20,000 in state students will benefit from these new teachers. However much I like to see foundations support education, I'm afraid this endeavor will do little good to increase the quality of education in this state, even though it might make receiving a college education more affordable to a significant number of fellowship recipients.

Unfortunately, I don't see this money making a dime's worth of difference in a system that demands that decisions be made in Lansing and DC.

We have a broken system folks, and the fact that 80% of all teachers are excellent and the fact that the goal of every school district in the state is to do a good job of educating our youth, will make absolutely no difference until those teachers and those school districts regain control. Teachers become tired of bucking a system that makes it hard for them to teach. Administrators become tired of dealing with the same problems every day because permanent solutions to most problems are not allowed. Too many good students are kept from learning because numbskull deviants and disruptors are almost impossible to remove from the classroom. It really is remarkable that half the kids do get a decent education.

Give districts the power to toss out the 20% of teachers that stink, allow effective teachers to receive merit raises, let districts boot out 20% of the students that have no desire to be in the classroom other than to disrupt (without financially punishing the districts,) and give local parents the ability to shape vocational curriculums and set policy. I could go on and on and on, and so could everyone else.

In my humble opinion, the $16 million would be better spent in legal efforts to change the way things now operate than to inject more teachers into a failed system.

A Bit More on Fort Hood Shooting

It is being reported by the AP (via Michelle Malkin) that Nidal Malik Hasan, a devout Muslim, shouted "Allahu Akbar" before he began shooting down infidel victims.

It also said that

Military officials were trying to piece together what may have pushed Hasan, an Army psychiatrist trained to help soldiers in distress, to turn on his comrades. Cone said the 39-year-old Hasan was not known to be a threat or risk.
Figuring out exactly what might be the seed behind a devout Muslim screaming out 'Allah is great' before gunning down as many unarmed soldiers as possible, is going to be difficult to put a finger on.

The Associated Press can be roughly translated to mean a collection of obtuse asses.

Candidate Gets Valuable Endorsements

All this from yesterday's Detroit News:

"I'm impressed with him because he has the background and experience that sometimes is lacking today."
"Institutional experience and memory are missed in this process. [He] brings that."
Thus spake two former Michigan Democrat speakers of the house in their endorsement of...wait for it...John Cherry for governor!

Two additional former Democrat speakers also piped up and added their considerable clout to the Cherry campaign. As was emphasized by former speakers Bobby Crim and Lewis Dodak respectively above, Cherry manned the co-pilot's seat and gained invaluable experience in helping to navigate his favorite state into perhaps the most disastrous economic implosion in Michigan history. Cherry has been instrumental in helping to close doors for workers, shut down business growth opportunities, and ultimately in driving businesses and the unemployed out of state.

Cherry does have valuable experience, unfortunately it is in knowing how to shrink an economy. This will come in very handy during his first few weeks and months as governor as he intends to expand on the current administration's efforts to shrink Michigan's carbon footprint and grow green industry. Cherry knows how to effectively push for taxes when the business sector grows too big, how to enact crushing regulations when they become too wealthy, and how to use his myriad political skills in the propping up of favored niche industries such as the rental moving van and 'house for sale' sign printing sectors.

What's not to love about John Cherry's record? Of course he gets the endorsement of former Democrat speakers, for they have not yet seen a single indication that the Granholm/Cherry administration has been anything other than a monumental success.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Can We Call it Terrorism Yet?

Well, that is hard to say just yet.

Certainly the AP and the BBC were more than willing to raise the possibility that the horrific Fort Hood massacre could be the result of a man suffering from depression or post traumatic stress disorder.

Too many deployments. Too many battle scars. Too many traumatized American fighting men and women needing services from a military stretched too thin both on the battlefield and in its support services.

Suicides have been on the rise, and there have been several other acts of soldier on soldier crime at Fort Hood in recent years past. Earlier today I had already seen a couple of lists that documented the incidents of soldier on soldier crime that have taken place in the past few years down at Fort Hood.

Now, a few hours later, we are discovering that the perpetrator of this horrific crime is a life long American Muslim who felt that America's war in Iraq and Afghanistan were illegitimate. He ranted to colleagues and on his website that Muslims should rise up against the aggressors, and that he saw no difference between falling on a hand grenade and strapping on a suicide belt. He had never been to Iraq or Afghanistan, and if he was suffering from any sort of PTSD, it was through his exposure as a psychiatrist that he received while administering care to returning military personnel.

While the media were quick to post lists and words that might help bolster the argument that the war had helped derange another American hero, I expect there will be little documenting done by the media on the number of Islam driven violent crimes that have taken place in this country since 2001.

Oh, I know we are not supposed to say such things because it might be offensive to some, and others might feel harassed at the mere suggestion.

If this doesn't smell of terrorism, I don't know what does.

Charity With A Twist

cross posted at Right Michigan

Several months ago both Michigan State University and Kalamazoo College received a letter that notified them of a generous gift. The schools were among an exclusive group of ten institutions across the country that had individually received a significant donation. Michigan State received $10 million while Kalamazoo College received $2 million.

Each college in the group was given some instruction as to how it could spend the money. A designated amount was earmarked to be used toward student financial aid while the smaller remainder could be used in any way that the college or university saw fit. Perhaps the most astonishing revelation concerning this philanthropy, aside from its sheer aggregate size, was that it was donated anonymously and there was no effort on the part of the donor to receive any conspicuous attention.

For some, attention is unnecessary. Others find attention to be a bit more, shall we say, advantageous.

In the Elizabethan Age, aristocrats traipsed into the Globe Theatre and took the most prominent and visible positions. Those that paid enough pennies to reach the upper gallery were farther away and higher off the stage than most of those who may have paid a penny or two less. Many of these high priced seats were at such an angle that the actors on stage rarely faced their most affluent and conspicuous guests. The only advantage these expensive seats had was that a person sitting above and to the immediate sides of the stage was visible to the rest of the crowd. Being seen at the Globe was important in certain circles and well worth both the price of admission and the crappy seat that went with it.

Chiefs of the Kwakwaka'wakw tribes of the Pacific Northwest often hosted elaborate potlatch ceremonies in which great efforts were made to gain prestige among other chiefs and tribes. This status was earned by the host if he could prove to his invited guests that he could afford to destroy or give away more wealth than his counterparts could. Intricate coppers, headdresses, jewelry, carvings, as well as other valuables were lavishly given away or intentionally broken, burned or thrown into the sea for this intended purpose. Wealth and status to the Kwakwaka'wakw was measured not by how much could be amassed, but rather by how much could be dispensed with.

In more contemporary times, when Sean Penn traveled to post Katrina New Orleans, he did so with spotless intentions, a boat, a few adoring fans, and his own camera crew. It was hard to discount Mr. Penn's heartfelt desire to rescue the stranded victims, though it was decidedly easier to discount his narcissistic desire to be filmed doing so.

While philanthropy can provide benefits to those receiving it, in my own little neck of the woods, philanthropy earns the giver a level of respect dependent on the giver's motivation.

Which brings us to Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer.

The press release demands our attention and our admiration:

Whitmer Donates Legislative Expense Account Money to East Lansing Schools

LANSING– State Senator Gretchen Whitmer announced today that she will donate her full legislative expense stipend for this month to the East Lansing Education Foundation. Additionally, Whitmer formally introduced bills yesterday that call for the Legislature to share in the sacrifices of Michigan’s citizens and reform the way government works.
Gretchen Whitmer might be the bighearted philanthropist she wants us to believe that she is, but she is also every bit the opportunist and grandstander that Sean Penn is, clanking her offering into the bottom of the collection plate loudly enough to make certain that those in the pews both in front and behind cannot flee from her display of generosity.

While Whitmer's in-district expenses might not be reimbursed for the next few months because evil Republicans refuse to cave in to the punitive taxation policies preferred by Democrats like Whitmer, her expense stipend will be invested in more important commodities than gasoline or luxurious French manicures--perhaps a few school books along with all the potential votes that a little well aimed and very public donation might buy.

As it turns out, the East Lansing School District received its own letter notifying it of some soon to arrive philanthropy. It was such a gosh darn nice letter too that it was posted on the Michigan Senate Democrats' website, I assume at the insistence of the school district as an example of concise grammar rather than any attention it might accidentally garner the selfless Gretchen Whitmer. In fact, I'm certain Gretchen would have given serious thought to anonymously donating the taxpayer's money to her school of choice if not for that overbearing good conscience of hers.
I cannot, in good conscience, accept this allotment while my colleagues balance our state's budget on the backs of our children. [What, don't they have desks and conference tables down there in Lansing? ed.] While this contribution is certainly not enough to make schools whole, it is something to reflect the importance of your efforts to provide children a quality education necessary for the world of tomorrow.
It often does boil down to conscience now, doesn't it? Here we have a state senator who happens to be blessed with just enough conscience to deny the acceptance of what she believes is ill-earned money given to her for deficient achievement, but who also happens to lack just enough conscience to avoid giving it away again without forcing a loud attention gathering cough immediately before its donation hits the collection plate.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? Or more aptly, if a donation is made to a deserving entity while not being shamelessly promoted to score cheap political points with an otherwise unaware public, can the organization still enjoy spending the money?

By my thinking I suppose it can, though I'm certain it doesn't make nearly as much grating noise.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hypocritical Sheep and the Welfare State

Hypocrisy: specifically seeking out assistance from the single most inefficient deliverer of charity ever envisioned by man, and then getting all bent out of shape when the delivery system fails to satisfy.

People who lobby the government for much of anything should shut up and stand in line quietly like the good little sheep that they pretend to be whenever an election rolls around.

Obligatory Election Post

I cannot go without at least mentioning the elections that took place yesterday. There were three races that carried with them some national implications, at least as much as such elections can ever help to keep a finger on the pulse of American voter trends.

The governorships in both Virginia and New Jersey swung to the Republicans after several years in Democratic hands. While the Virginia governor's chair is prone to flipping back and forth with some modest frequency, it was the New Jersey office that had people paying the most attention. New Jersey is a state recognized as being a political cesspool of corruption and is also recognized as being a state with some of the most punishing taxation policies in the history of life on this planet. It appears as if New Jersey voters are tired of being the laughingstock of America everywhere outside of Detroit.

In the NY 23 special election for the House of Representatives, a well connected mainstream Democrat closely defeated a self-made grass roots politician that only a couple of months ago was politically anonymous. That the election was so close between the two candidates clearly indicates that there is a groundswell of politically active conservatism in the country.

The seat has been traditionally Republican in years past, and the loss of the seat has to be considered a blow to establishment Republicans. However, as a conservative myself, I see no downside to having this single district fall to the Democrats for another year. Republicans have, over the course of the past ten years or so, turned their backs on conservative principles, instead putting the reward of sitting in public office ahead of the rewards of serving in public office. The meteoric rise of a political unknown to the status of true contender for high public office is more than a little eye opening.

Establishment Republicans have proven themselves to be not the most perceptive of people. Perhaps this shot across the bow got their attention.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

111 New Ways to Save Health Care Dollars

With a hat tip to Power Line, here is the list of the 111 different panels/boards/programs/etc. that will be created by the gargantuan intrusion into all Americans' private lives that is Nancy Pelosi's health care reform plan.

1. Retiree Reserve Trust Fund (Section 111(d), p. 61)
2. Grant program for wellness programs to small employers (Section 112, p. 62)
3. Grant program for State health access programs (Section 114, p. 72)
4. Program of administrative simplification (Section 115, p. 76)
5. Health Benefits Advisory Committee (Section 223, p. 111)
6. Health Choices Administration (Section 241, p. 131)
7. Qualified Health Benefits Plan Ombudsman (Section 244, p. 138)
8. Health Insurance Exchange (Section 201, p. 155)
9. Program for technical assistance to employees of small businesses buying Exchange coverage (Section 305(h), p. 191)
10. Mechanism for insurance risk pooling to be established by Health Choices Commissioner (Section 306(b), p. 194)
11. Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund (Section 307, p. 195)
12. State-based Health Insurance Exchanges (Section 308, p. 197)
13. Grant program for health insurance cooperatives (Section 310, p. 206)
14. "Public Health Insurance Option" (Section 321, p. 211)
15. Ombudsman for "Public Health Insurance Option" (Section 321(d), p. 213)
16. Account for receipts and disbursements for "Public Health Insurance Option" (Section 322(b), p. 215)
17. Telehealth Advisory Committee (Section 1191 (b), p. 589)
18. Demonstration program providing reimbursement for "culturally and linguistically appropriate services" (Section 1222, p. 617)
19. Demonstration program for shared decision making using patient decision aids (Section 1236, p. 648)
20. Accountable Care Organization pilot program under Medicare (Section 1301, p. 653)
21. Independent patient-centered medical home pilot program under Medicare (Section 1302, p. 672)
22. Community-based medical home pilot program under Medicare (Section 1302(d), p. 681)
23. Independence at home demonstration program (Section 1312, p. 718)
24. Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (Section 1401(a), p. 734)
25. Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission (Section 1401(a), p. 738)
26. Patient ombudsman for comparative effectiveness research (Section 1401(a), p. 753)
27. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 1412(b)(1), p. 784)
28. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for nursing facilities (Section 1412 (b)(2), p. 786)
29. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 1413(a)(3), p. 796)
30. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 1413(b)(3), p. 804)
31. National independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 1422, p. 859)
32. Demonstration program for approved teaching health centers with respect to Medicare GME (Section 1502(d), p. 933)
33. Pilot program to develop anti-fraud compliance systems for Medicare providers (Section 1635, p. 978)
34. Special Inspector General for the Health Insurance Exchange (Section 1647, p. 1000)
35. Medical home pilot program under Medicaid (Section 1722, p. 1058)
36. Accountable Care Organization pilot program under Medicaid (Section 1730A, p. 1073)
37. Nursing facility supplemental payment program (Section 1745, p. 1106)
38. Demonstration program for Medicaid coverage to stabilize emergency medical conditions in institutions for mental diseases (Section 1787, p. 1149)
39. Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund (Section 1802, p. 1162)
40. "Identifiable office or program" within CMS to "provide for improved coordination between Medicare and Medicaid in the case of dual eligibles" (Section 1905, p. 1191)
41. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 1907, p. 1198)
42. Public Health Investment Fund (Section 2002, p. 1214)
43. Scholarships for service in health professional needs areas (Section 2211, p. 1224)
44. Program for training medical residents in community-based settings (Section 2214, p. 1236)
45. Grant program for training in dentistry programs (Section 2215, p. 1240)
46. Public Health Workforce Corps (Section 2231, p. 1253)
47. Public health workforce scholarship program (Section 2231, p. 1254)
48. Public health workforce loan forgiveness program (Section 2231, p. 1258)
49. Grant program for innovations in interdisciplinary care (Section 2252, p. 1272)
50. Advisory Committee on Health Workforce Evaluation and Assessment (Section 2261, p. 1275)
51. Prevention and Wellness Trust (Section 2301, p. 1286)
52. Clinical Prevention Stakeholders Board (Section 2301, p. 1295)
53. Community Prevention Stakeholders Board (Section 2301, p. 1301)
54. Grant program for community prevention and wellness research (Section 2301, p. 1305)
55. Grant program for research and demonstration projects related to wellness incentives (Section 2301, p. 1305)
56. Grant program for community prevention and wellness services (Section 2301, p. 1308)
57. Grant program for public health infrastructure (Section 2301, p. 1313)
58. Center for Quality Improvement (Section 2401, p. 1322)
59. Assistant Secretary for Health Information (Section 2402, p. 1330)
60. Grant program to support the operation of school-based health clinics (Section 2511, p. 1352)
61. Grant program for nurse-managed health centers (Section 2512, p. 1361)
62. Grants for labor-management programs for nursing training (Section 2521, p. 1372)
63. Grant program for interdisciplinary mental and behavioral health training (Section 2522, p. 1382)
64. "No Child Left Unimmunized Against Influenza" demonstration grant program (Section 2524, p. 1391)
65. Healthy Teen Initiative grant program regarding teen pregnancy (Section 2526, p. 1398)
66. Grant program for interdisciplinary training, education, and services for individuals with autism (Section 2527(a), p. 1402)
67. University centers for excellence in developmental disabilities education (Section 2527(b), p. 1410)
68. Grant program to implement medication therapy management services (Section 2528, p. 1412)
69. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors in underserved communities (Section 2530, p. 1422)
70. Grant program for State alternative medical liability laws (Section 2531, p. 1431)
71. Grant program to develop infant mortality programs (Section 2532, p. 1433)
72. Grant program to prepare secondary school students for careers in health professions (Section 2533, p. 1437)
73. Grant program for community-based collaborative care (Section 2534, p. 1440)
74. Grant program for community-based overweight and obesity prevention (Section 2535, p. 1457)
75. Grant program for reducing the student-to-school nurse ratio in primary and secondary schools (Section 2536, p. 1462)
76. Demonstration project of grants to medical-legal partnerships (Section 2537, p. 1464)
77. Center for Emergency Care under the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (Section 2552, p. 1478)
78. Council for Emergency Care (Section 2552, p 1479)
79. Grant program to support demonstration programs that design and implement regionalized emergency care systems (Section 2553, p. 1480)
80. Grant program to assist veterans who wish to become emergency medical technicians upon discharge (Section 2554, p. 1487)
81. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 2562, p. 1494)
82. National Medical Device Registry (Section 2571, p. 1501)
83. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 2581, p. 1597)
84. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 2581, p. 1598)
85. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 2581, p. 1602)
86. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Women's Health (Section 2588, p. 1610)
87. National Women's Health Information Center (Section 2588, p. 1611)
88. Centers for Disease Control Office of Women's Health (Section 2588, p. 1614)
89. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Women's Health and Gender-Based Research (Section 2588, p. 1617)
90. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women's Health (Section 2588, p. 1618)
91. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women's Health (Section 2588, p. 1621)
92. Personal Care Attendant Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 2589(a)(2), p. 1624)
93. Grant program for national health workforce online training (Section 2591, p. 1629)
94. Grant program to disseminate best practices on implementing health workforce investment programs (Section 2591, p. 1632)
95. Demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (Section 3101, p. 1717)
96. Demonstration program for substance abuse counselor educational curricula (Section 3101, p. 1719)49. Grant program for innovations in interdisciplinary care (Section 2252, p. 1272)
97. Program of Indian community education on mental illness (Section 3101, p. 1722)
98. Intergovernmental Task Force on Indian environmental and nuclear hazards (Section 3101, p. 1754)
99. Office of Indian Men's Health (Section 3101, p. 1765)
100. Indian Health facilities appropriation advisory board (Section 3101, p. 1774)
101. Indian Health facilities needs assessment workgroup (Section 3101, p. 1775)
102. Indian Health Service tribal facilities joint venture demonstration projects (Section 3101, p. 1809)
103. Urban youth treatment center demonstration project (Section 3101, p. 1873)
104. Grants to Urban Indian Organizations for diabetes prevention (Section 3101, p. 1874)
105. Grants to Urban Indian Organizations for health IT adoption (Section 3101, p. 1877)
106. Mental health technician training program (Section 3101, p. 1898)
107. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (Section 3101, p. 1909)
108. Program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims and perpetrators (Section 3101, p. 1925)
109. Program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (Section 3101, p. 1927)
110. Native American Health and Wellness Foundation (Section 3103, p. 1966)
111. Committee for the Establishment of the Native American Health and Wellness Foundation (Section 3103, p. 1968)

Somehow this monstrosity (with a price tag of over $1 TRILLION) is going to help beckon in a new age of efficiency and medical thrift. It will probably do so in the same way that the Department of Education has ended the existence of teenage listlessness, and in the same way that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has virtually wiped out urban blight.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Quick Thank You to the UAW

If you operated a business that has struggled to make a profit for a number of years and had in the interim been hemorrhaging billions, what would you do given the circumstances that have transpired in the past week?

First, you managed to turn a $1 billion profit for the third quarter buoyed in large measure by the Cash for Clunkers program. (This sounds like a ton of money until it is compared to the $30 billion of losses over the past few years.) Secondly, the UAW rank and file members are in the process of defeating a tentative agreement with your company that would allow you to move forward with a labor agreement in the US that is more in line with that of its competitors. Finally, the Canadian Auto Workers ratified a labor agreement that would allow you to compete with the rest of the industry in that country.

Now, if your sales numbers increase and you need to add production, where would you be most likely to increase that production? Would it be in a country where you are less efficient and less likely to be able to turn a profit, or would it be in a more labor friendly market where your per unit costs are more in line with the rest of the industry?

It is easy to blame the demise of the domestic automobile industry on a number of factors, including the management of the Big 3 themselves. However, as long and drawn out as that learning curve has been for management at Ford, it appears as if it has finally started to catch on. American labor unions (primarily the UAW) and overly aggressive government regulators have still experienced no epiphany.

This long term trend, if relationships between the UAW and Ford continue to be icy, will be for more jobs to flee Michigan in favor of venues that are friendlier. This does not bode well for a state already crippled by fleeing jobs and businesses.

The rest of Michigan owes the UAW nothing regardless of how loud Ron Gettelfinger's legions like to champion their advances for all workers. All that the UAW deserves by way of gratitude from me is a hearty 'thank you' for helping to destroy what is left of the state that I grew up in.

I hope that future transfer to Canada works out okay.