Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash For Clunkers Suspended (or not)

If you waited much longer than just a few days to pull the trigger on a Cash for Clunkers deal down at the local car lot you are probably out of luck, at least for the time being. It appears as if the CARS welfare program designed to help Kia, Isuzu, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota get back on their feet after decades of mismanagement and adversarial labor relations, has already rifled through the $1 billion it was allotted. This is akin to HHS running out of food stamps before the sugar and carbonated beverage food groups have even been addressed.

Said a clearly excited Candice Miller:

"The thing has exploded. It has exceeded everyone's expectations. Throughout our history, it has been auto sales that have pulled us out of recession. People are more likely to buy cars than houses. Not to be too Pollyannaish, but we're getting our mojo back."
She probably means those recessions that occurred after the automobile was actually invented, but it isn't kind to be that picky. It is true that more people are likely to buy cars than houses. It is also true that there will be more shoes sold than there will be automobiles. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that there are going to be more boxes of pasta sold today than shoes.

So what.

Dumping a billion dollars into an entire industry hoping that a percentage of the money will trickle down to the dysfunctional American portion will do nothing to make Chrysler and GM operate more efficiently and profitably than they have the last decade or so.

The great news is that, even though the program is essentially broke already, the bureaucrats in DC are already looking under the sofa cushions to find a little spare change to keep the program alive. Let us not forget that a government willing to keep disasters like HUD and the DOE alive for decades will find it personally difficult to shut down any government program, regardless of how misguided, in only a week's time.


A Honda sold under this program will have its unit profit hit the bottom line. A GM vehicle sold under this program will have its unit margin go to cover legacy costs. One company gets richer while the next gasps for another ventilator assisted raspy breath. In either case the taxpayers just bought themselves part of a brand spankin' new car with better gas mileage. Maybe I can hitch a ride.

h/t Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Banned in Britain

How proud the British must be today that someone of authority finally stepped forward and said that police officers will no longer be barred from wearing this tiny emblem because it is too offensive.

It is good to see that at least some Brits are not willing to commit national suicide on the mantle of political correctness.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Down with the Tanned Obese!

The days of lying in a tanning bed while dragging on a smoke and horking down full-size chocolate bars and large sugary drinks may end soon, at least in Britain. How long it takes before such selfless concern for the citizenry spreads across the pond is anyone's guess. Seriously, not since Jack and Diane stopped shamelessly sucking on chili dogs have the prospects for a healthier population looked this good.

If we are lucky we will stop seeing altogether those bronzed herds of obese and puffing Pepsi drinkers milling about the candy machines. Perhaps a group exercise session could be organized to fill up those listless hours otherwise spent chomping on sweet caramel and Skoal, preferably after dark and far away from any fast food establishments.

Because, if there is one thing that advocates and concerned bureaucrats love more than dietetic Swiss cake rolls it is a healthy, happy subject smelling only slightly of cabbage. Don't you worry though, none of these crusades will ever limit a person's freedom to exercise his or her own free will.

Gill Fine, from the FSA said: 'We are not telling people what to eat. We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices — to choose foods with reduced saturated fat and sugar — or smaller portion sizes.'
Which can be done quite easily by limiting the menu to asparagus, celery, and kohlrabi. Just look at the glorious choice! (Please hold the salt and you can also forget about any of that disgustingly high calorie cheese sauce.)

How long will it be before the British bureaucracy and its political remora, the American anal retentivist version, begin hiring and training beach monitors armed with clip boards and stop watches to shoo away reddening UV lovers recently separated from their illegal tanning beds?

Displaced chocolate workers need jobs too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reading Bills is Over Rated

At least it is if you happen to be the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. At a National Press Club luncheon the esteemed John Conyers spake:

What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?
While I recognize that John Conyers is not always the most discernible of orators, I believe I can read clearly between the lines in this instance.

Bills are too long, too complex, and given their length and complexity, are expected to be addressed on timetables that are far too short. Yet Conyers response is not that the bills need to be shortened, simplified, or be put on timetables that would provide a reasonable period for study. No, Conyers natural response is to toss out a pathetic equivalent of "hey, its hopeless."

If these jackasses (and this jackass in particular) would spend more time addressing their job's requirements in a proper manner rather than continually trying to investigate the previous administration for treason, war crimes, corruption, and abuse of power, maybe, just maybe, the crowned heads of America would have a bit more time to shorten, simplify, and, in lieu of the first two, actually study the bills they were elected to vote on.

Other than that I've got nothin'.

h/t Wizbang

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Victims of Detroit Public Schools Identified (the rest remain unnoticed)

I suppose that after a school district is already well into the hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that a paltry $300,000 lawsuit settlement to a couple of aggrieved teachers isn't going to break the camel's back. Seriously, from the looks of things the camel is already sedated and in a full body cast. No, this $300 large is one of those insults to injury things--a crudely scrawled profanity in the middle of the camel's plastered hump.

It is not hard to discover why the Detroit Public Schools is broke. It is too large. Its enrollment has plummeted due to a number of different developments so its revenue stream has fallen significantly. But, while the student enrollment was dropping, the school district failed to make the appropriate adjustments to its staffing and buildings. It did make some cuts, but the cuts that it made were too few and shallow. It simply operated like a school that still had more students in its classrooms than it had. Corruption has not helped one bit either.

Schools have to operate like businesses and there really is no other answer for school districts that are going broke, at least under our current financing system, other than to cut costs. To stay afloat one must stay light.

During the attempts by the DPS to align its buildings and staffing properly, it ran afoul of parents and students that did not want to see particularly schools shuttered in favor of schools farther away from home. In addition to parents and students being upset, teachers also became upset because any closure of classrooms would result in fewer teachers.

Enter Steve Conn and Heather Miller, two teachers from the DPS.

The controversy began in May 2007 when Conn and Miller, who are husband and wife and math teachers, were at Northern High School during a protest against the closing of 33 schools. District officials said the students were banging on windows and were pepper-sprayed by security and detained.

The couple were placed on leave June 2007 and barred from returning to work even after an administrative law judge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission recommended reinstatement in June 2008.

In November, Murphy ordered the school district to return Conn and Miller to their jobs immediately at Cass Tech High and Marquette Elementary, respectively.

Murphy's order Wednesday stated that the cash-strapped school board has the right to issue bonds to pay the judgment.

"We are determined to continue to fight against the dismantling of our school district, and for real reform and equality for the young people of Detroit," Miller said.
It should be noted that the DPS suspended the two teachers because they believed the two were leading the student protests.

Clearly the monetary award indicates that the victims in this case are the two teachers intent upon making it as difficult as possible for the school district to tighten its purse strings. There was no money in there for students who are forced to attend this three ring circus in an attempt to be one of the 30 per cent that might ultimately graduate. No money for the parents who are helplessly forced to send their children into the hallowed halls and classrooms of chaos. And certainly no relief for the taxpayers who will be forced to pay this tab, not only for the settlement, but also to replace the pepper spray that was spent in getting control of the situation to begin with.

One thing is for sure, if judges ever get around to awarding money to every single victim of the DPS administration and many of its ideologue teachers, the district will go broke.

Oh, never mind.

Friday, July 24, 2009

To Lansing Today

I am but one oil change and a shower away from hitting the road and heading to Lansing for hopefully what will be our second to the last orthodontia appointment.

I will attempt to blog later this evening when I return home, that is if I'm not forced into cardiac arrest by a Detroit Tigers' team that somehow manages to score more than two runs in its double header against Chicago. I'm packing aspirin just in case.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Iran's Plate Too Full To Respond To US

It seems as if the Obama administration is actually attempting to appear naive on the world stage as it pursues dialog with Iran at any cost. It is as if they believe that by faking the depth of our gullibility we might be able to hoodwink our adversaries into raising a white flag.

It truly is becoming embarrassing.

Hillary Clinton told the BBC the US was waiting for an answer to its overtures, but Iran did not have "any capacity to make that kind of decision right now".

Mrs Clinton recently warned that Iran's time to respond was limited.

The US accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons but Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

"We haven't had any response," Mrs Clinton told the BBC's state department correspondent Kim Ghattas.

"We've certainly reached out and made it clear that's what we'd be willing to do, even now, despite our absolute condemnation of what they've done in the [12 June presidential] election and since, but I don't think they have any capacity to make that kind of decision right now."
Not to be a stick in the mud here, but Iran has had years and years and years to respond to US and UN and EU concerns on its nuclear weapons program through a number of channels. Blaming this latest no response from Iran on domestic strife is laughable. They are not answering because it is not in their best interests to answer.

When we approached the Iranians with hat in hand they demanded an apology. Neither our kid-glove response to Iran's brutal protest quashing nor our willful ignoring of Iran's hand in the murder of US military personnel inside Iraq has had any effect on the mullah's stance.

When we chase after dialog with these cretins we give them additional credibility with anti-American world leaders and also help to disillusion those within the country who might otherwise engage in protest. What the mullahs want is time to develop its nuclear weapons program, and when we engage in a strategy of diplomacy at any cost we grant them the precious time they so stridently desire.

Playing global politics with the hopelessly naive is an easy game to win and we are far behind on the scoreboard.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lindsey Graham Speaks (Dems Giggle)

Lindsey Graham has determined that only half of every Supreme Court vacancy should be a battle over our culture. You know, the ones nominated by Republicans.

The nominees of Republican presidents can be filibustered, vilified, lied about, railed against, and Borked by Democrats. The nominees of Democrat presidents should be supported by Republicans in hopes that reasonable Democrats will learn from the Republican's example of trying to get along.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on the Senate floor today that he believes special interest groups on both the right and left may be gaining too much influence over the confirmation of judges and warned that the Senate “cannot make every Supreme Court vacancy a battle over our culture.”

Graham made the statement while announcing he would vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is not a big shock that Graham would come out in support of Sotomayor as he has been making excuses for voting for her since her first day of testimony. What is a shock is that Graham has learned so little from his years on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Regardless of Lindsey Graham's reasoned speeches, the Dems will not respect him politically in the morning. Sure, they really like him as a person. They like his calm demeanor and his southern accent too. But what they like about him the most is the fact that they can blast away at highly qualified constructionist judge candidates without any political retaliation. They know with confidence that milquetoast Republican senators like Lindsay Graham will support whatever collectivist moonbat nominee the Dems can drag up and place behind a mic.

Oh well, some people simply cannot learn. Which, incidentally, is another reason why the Democrats love Lindsey Graham.

The Political Habitat of the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Spreads Nationally

That cute little bundle of furry, seed-eating mischief, having found itself the principle benefactor of a non-specific $16.1 earmark in the federal stimulus bill, has managed to expand its political habitat well beyond that of its natural territory, all the way to Mio, Michigan.

Now, it isn't like the mouse actually checked any luggage before boarding a flight in Nancy Pelosi's home district to later touch down at the Oscoda County Airport. (Seriously, can you imagine anything quite so adorable as those little suitcases?) Anyway, it was only the spirit of the mouse and word of his great fortune that landed smoothly on the otherwise bumpy dirt landing strip just north of town.

Let me explain.

Like many small towns and sparsely populated counties across the country where there is a need for marginal airport facilities, the facilities themselves are not used frequently enough to warrant huge investments.

The Oscoda County Airport is one such facility. It is seldom used by much of anyone though two single engine aircraft are tied down on the property. Its runway is dirt, its edge marked with three foot yellow cones, and its condition is listed as poor. There is no control tower, no published instrument procedures, no fencing to keep animals from mating on the runway, and don't even think about fueling up because it won't happen unless you bring your own can. And fuel.

Given the current lack and condition of facilities and the airport's infrequent usage, how much money would be reasonable to upgrade the airport to make it a more likely stop for aircraft travelers? It would not take a great leap in logic to deduce that the airport, to stay even minimally functional, could use some modest upgrades, but what, and for how much?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently required the county to submit a 10 year plan for capital improvements. In order to comply with this regulation, the county hired a consulting firm to help it devise a plan that would address the airport's inadequacies. The report came back with recommendations for several capital improvements as well as estimated costs for implementing the projects contained within the 10 year plan. The county commissioners approved of the plan.

Now, don't swallow your gum. The total price tag is $2,432,500 according to the Oscoda County Herald.

Estimates from Hunt and Mead show the runway improvements to cost approximately $1.36 million, with the state and local governments both on the hook for $34,000 in cost.
Estimates from Mead and Hunt estimate the cost for the fueling station to be $157,500, with the federal government covering $150,000 of the cost.
Mead and Hunt estimates the cost for the design and construction of the T-hanger to be about $615,000, with the county and state each picking up about $15,000 of the total cost.
The rest of the plan calls for the construction of perimeter fencing around the airport. The fencing is estimated to cost about $300,000.

The fencing would help to keep animals and outside traffic off of the runways according to Ward.

Some in the audience questioned the commissioners why they would spend upward of $70,000 in county money on an airport that is used by so few county residents.

County Commissioner Joe Stone said that it was in the best interest in the residents for the county to only have to invest 2.5 percent of the funding that could bring millions of dollars in additional capital to the county.
I chatted briefly with one of the county commissioners this morning. While he did say that several years ago he would never have supported such a thing, he also pointed out that a great majority of the cost of the projects would not be covered locally.

So, what does all this have to do with the salt water harvest mouse?

I mentioned to the commissioner that even if the money was not coming out of county coffers, it would ultimately have to be paid for by the taxpayers regardless of which bureaucracy borrowed the money to foot the bill. He replied that if Congress is happy to send a lot more money to Nancy Pelosi's district to help the habitat of the salt marsh harvest mouse, why shouldn't Oscoda County be worth at least a little something in comparison for a project that could actually generate a little revenue and perhaps help to attract new businesses to the area in the future?

He has a point.

Who can blame any locals, whether from Mio or Timbuktu, for lobbying for a little cash when turd spewing California rodents are apparently worthy of so much more?

This is the legacy of the salt marsh harvest mouse--the ridiculousness of the size of its award now a plausible justification for countless other questionable expenditures all across this once great land of ours. Nancy Pelosi's legacy will be much less attractive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Boxer Gets Boxed

Like a card up the sleeve, it can always be counted on when the opportunity arrives. It can be the clincher in a discussion or an argument against another person that is too weak or uninspired to protest. It is perhaps the most powerful tool in our contemporary political landscape where elections are decided by percentages small enough that a crucial and monolithic voting bloc can decide virtually any election.

What is it?

It is called identity politics.

Identity politics is a well honed strategy that pits a dissenting member of a particular group of people as inauthentic because he or she strays from the blessed position of the group. I have written about it before on several occasions, but rarely do you see uglier real world examples than the one perpetrated by Democrat Sen. Babs Boxer in her attempt to keep Harry Alford quietly picking cotton on the plantation.

Mr. Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce was not going to stand for it.

Dissent can be a lovely thing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt, RIP

Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela's Ashes, has died in New York.

Angela's Ashes was one of the two or three most enjoyable books I read in the past decade. I cherished it so much that I avoided the movie altogether in fear that it would somehow tarnish the story of McCourt's tragic childhood in Ireland.

A good man deserves his rest.

America Apologizes

In a flurry of self loathing these past few days the Obama administration did its level best to both take the blame for China's carbon emissions while also apologizing to India for America's contribution to global pollution.

Meanwhile no one seems to notice that all of this evil perpetrated by the American consumer has virtually stamped out starvation, pestilence, and poverty, not only in our own little America, but in many other areas across the globe--most notably China and India.

So Clinton and Locke have headed abroad to pay tribute to those countries we have victimized at the altar of our consumerism. Those millions who died of poverty, starvation and disease before the American experiment began are but a fleeting memory. There isn't much point in apologizing for any of that.

Computer Issues Resolved

I've been silent of late because of a computer problem that has now been resolved. I hope to begin blogging again either later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Better Get My Loot!

Monica Conyers speaks out on her governing style.

The Slippery Slope Yields a Victim

Many of us on the right have been lambasted because we reject anti-smoking legislation. We just want to smoke, to selfishly have it our way, regardless of how damaging it is to those around us. First of all, I reject this argument outright because I am a non-smoker and there are few things in the world that piss me off more than some rude teenage punk lighting up a smoke right next to me so that I have to experience every nauseating drag. (I don't care much for that solitary line of smoke either that seems to waft in my direction regardless of where I am sitting or where the cigarette is placed.)

While the rudeness of these punks is astounding, I have found it a rare occasion when any smoker will not move their cigarette to a less offensive position once it has been pointed out to them politely that their gassy shit-smelling cancer stick is bugging the crap out of me. You see, most smokers don't want to be offensive, they just want to smoke. In fact, as tenuous as smoking rights are these days, most smokers quickly apologize and comment that they try their hardest to be polite smokers. Most smokers have gotten to the point that they appreciate being able to smoke, when and if they can at all.

I figure in a country where individual freedoms reign, I have three choices; I can ask smokers politely to move their cigarette, I can simply bear the smoke without saying anything, or I can voluntarily stay out of places where there is a lot of smoking. I figure that businesses should be able to operate as they see fit within their own private realms.

That, of course, is not good enough for champions of the nanny state that want to do their level best to remove every bit of offense, danger, and unfairness from all areas of society. These are people that I find much more offensive than smokers. While I want individuals to make good choices (and polite ones at that) I do not want the government regulating every part of our society, and I don't want these people to make my decisions for me, run my life, or attempt to control my actions through myriad punishments and rewards.

You see, I fear the slippery slope, and it is because of this fear that I have been so vocal about my disdain for unreasonable anti-smoking laws, the kind of laws that are being adopted around the country and are currently being pursued in Michigan.

In reverence to this fear and to helpfully point out to you that my paranoia is at least somewhat founded, I give you this item from Richmond, California, a town with a mission!

City officials in Richmond are snuffing out smoking in apartments, condominiums and public places, making it the hardest place in the San Francisco Bay area to smoke.

The City Council approved an ordinance this month that will ban lighting up in all multiunit housing by Jan. 1, 2011. Officials say smoking in multiunit housing exposes people to secondhand smoke, which can travel between apartments.

The city has already banned smoking in parks, farmers markets and other public places. Fines start at $100 for violating the bans.
When will the smoking police start pounding on the doors of neighborhoods where children are present, or where houses are closer than twenty feet apart, or during hours when pedestrians might be out on a walk? No one should be convinced that it will stop with an ordinance outlawing smoking in apartment buildings because with these people enough is never enough.

These people feel very comfortable making the rules in your home, from your smoking habits, to what is in your fridge, to the kind of windows you want to install, to the light bulbs in your fixtures, and to the car parked in your garage (that must be attached, painted to match the house, and be no smaller than 384 square feet.)

Wake up! It is time to cut these fascists off at the knees!

h/t Protein Wisdom

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thank You Mark Schauer!

Paul Mirengoff reports at Powerline that Nancy Pelosi recently sent out an important email.

I am reliably informed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office sent an email to a number of lobbyists for corporations asking their companies to pay for "thank you" ads for ten Democrats who voted for the House cap-and-trade legislation. The ten Democratic members presumably are those most vulnerable in 2010 by virtue of their vote.
On that list was Michigan's Mark Schauer, representative for the 7th district.

Mark Schauer stuck his neck out in voting for the Michigan job killing Cap and Trade Bill. The bill will help to "necessarily" raise energy bills, will substantially increase the costs of all products produced or transported by means that use energy (magic carpets and wheelbarrows are still cool with it,) and will make it virtually impossible for people in Michigan to sell their homes in order to move to states where idiots like Schauer do not hold office.

While I could find no such advertisement in the online version of the Jackson Citizen Patriot I did run across this article that detailed televised thank yous that were to be playing the last few days in support of the lame congressman in his district. The televised advertisements were financed by George Soros' Americans United for Change.

I like it. First, George Soros does his best to prop up the good congressman. Then Nancy Pelosi's handpicked corporate lobbyists do their best to get the good Representative off the hook.

The real question will be, what do those in his district think?

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is the big CIA Secret? Sheesh.

There really has to me more to it than this. There simply has to be.

It is being reported today that the top secret operation that the evil Dick Cheney ordered that the CIA not reveal to Congress was a plan to target and kill al Qaeda leaders abroad. The plan was a work in progress, was never formalized, had resulted in little training, was never put into operations and, as luck would have it, was actually reported to Congress after all.

And this is the best the Democrats can do to attack the Bush administration?

We are at war people. All things considered, is it a major scandal to plot to kill the enemy?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Weekend Round Up

I have been away from the computer for a few days. This afternoon I took a few moments to catch up on some things and I was astonished at the amount of interesting news that has occurred since Friday.

I'll briefly touch on some of it.

First there is this little tidbit that took place at 4:14 in the afternoon on Friday, a massive $540 billion tax increase for Obama's national health care proposal. I was in college when then President Carter proposed an entire federal budget that for the first time in the history of this country passed the $500 billion mark.

“The top federal tax rate currently stands at 35 percent, but Democrats have vowed to raise it to 39.6 percent next year, when cuts enacted during the Bush administration expire,” reported the Post. “Combined with other federal tax adjustments, the surtax could leave most taxpayers with annual incomes more than $350,000 facing top federal rates of at least 45 percent, said Robert Carroll, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Tax Foundation.”
What could possibly go wrong with a plan to punish the most productive members of our society who, by the way, also happen to be responsible for most of the job growth over the past half century?

Jules Crittenden reports today that while most everyone recognizes that war is hell, it is the use of tobacco products that some health experts want to ban amongst our military personnel.

Maybe its just me but I think that if a guy believes it is worth it to take a bullet for the freedoms we enjoy in this country we ought to at least let him smoke while in uniform. The nannies can always turn all fascist on him once he comes home for good.

The editorial writers at the Detroit Free Press try their own hand at a Pascalesque wager concerning global warming. Their thesis is that it would be better for today's society to try its best to influence global temperatures downward than to ignore global temperatures altogether only to have future generations regret the inaction.

It is one of the most stunningly inaccurate and misleading editorials I have ever read. Thankfully no one other than myself reads their crap any more.
What's the least bad scenario for the year 2100? That people will laugh about precautions their grandparents and great-grandparents took to stave off climate change -- or that they'll be cursing their ancestors for not doing enough?

For a price that reaches about $14.50 per month per household by 2020, it certainly seems worthwhile to insure against being damned by future generations.

Even in the unlikely event that the scientific consensus about global warming emissions were to prove wildly wrong, there still would be honor in having taken action to protect as yet unknown offspring. And even if the first U.S. plan to ratchet back on global warming gases looks sadly weak, it nonetheless marks a commitment that Americans have dodged until now.
Emphasis mine.

These are but the first three paragraphs.

In paragraph one we see the Freep's writers omit any reference to the advances the industrial age has motivated. Advances in medical science...forgotten. Advances in the war on poverty...forgotten. Advances in the war against malnutrition and starvation...forgotten. Advances in education, communication, transportation, infrastructure, etc., all of them forgotten.

Perhaps in the year 2100, after all of these initiatives are taken, the huddled peoples of Earth will have forgotten that their ancestors actually had enough food on the table to feed the children. What a laugh riot that will be.

Paragraph two only refers to the most optimistic (and partisan) estimates on what Cap and Trade would do to a consumer's energy bill and does not take into account the added cost of products on the shelves to consumers, added transportation costs, added costs of bureaucracy, and the added social costs of a restricted economy.

Paragraph three repeats the oft told lie that there is a consensus among scientists concerning AGW. There is no such consensus and thousands and thousands of scientists dispute this notion.

But then, this is the Freep. What should we expect?

Finally, Popehat led me to this: How John Mellencamp Interprets Freedom of Speech.
“I don’t think people fought and gave their lives so that some guy can sit in his bedroom and be mean. I don’t think that’s what freedom of speech is,” he continued. “Freedom of speech is really about assembly — for us to collectively have an idea. We want to get our point of view out so we can assemble and I can appoint you to be the spokesman. That’s freedom of speech — to be able to collectively speak for a sector of people. But somehow it’s turned into ‘I can be an asshole whenever I feel like, say whatever I like, be disrespectful to people and not be courteous.’ It’s not good for our society. Not being courteous is not really freedom of speech. …
To which Ken at Popehat snarkily replies "John, if it’s any comfort to you, I’m sitting on the living-room couch as I type that you are a whiny douche."

Is it any real surprise that this minstrel's most famous line might be "suckin' on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freeze..."

Ah...that rugged collectivism.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Strike in Detroit?

How can the Detroit Federation of Teachers prove to the citizens of Detroit and the taxpayers of Michigan that they are determined to help the Detroit Public Schools recover from a backbreaking budget deficit, one so extreme that the state of Michigan itself had to assume control over its finances?

Yep, threaten a strike over the layoffs.

I am not so callous as to celebrate the loss of jobs that were once productive and necessary. But sad reality has to set in sooner or later and that looming $259 million dollar deficit for the upcoming school year is not a good omen. The city of Detroit itself is crumbling, is bleeding citizens, and many of those parents that do remain are doing everything that they can to keep their kids from attending a school system where recent graduation rates have been as low as 25%. Throw in a few insecure environments and what other choice does a caring parent have? Are all of these things the fault of teachers? Of course not, no more than it is the fault of a laid off custodian at the GM plant after some brainiac upstairs decided to produce the HHR.

DPS may have at one time been the perfect size for a city the size that Detroit once was. But times have changed. All businesses must adapt and public schools, as much as anyone wants to argue otherwise, are businesses with a product to supply to customers who are willing to consume the product. When the customers dry up, so do the coffers. This is where Detroit is at these days, and I have not even mentioned the massive amount of fraud and simple waste that have taken place inside those hallowed, paint-peeling, halls that helped to suck the bank accounts dry.

I do feel for the individual teachers of Detroit who have been laid off. In my opinion, however, it is time for them to take their degrees and move south to where the rest of us northerners will have to flock to soon enough, all of us with one of those "I voted for Jennifer Granholm and all I got was this lousy relocation pamphlet to Dallas" stickers on the bumper.

Threatening a strike against DPS under these conditions is not doing you any public relations' favors with the taxpayers that will have to foot the bill. Well, at least those taxpayers that haven't gotten out yet.

A Shocking Government Funded Failure

In what only could be interpreted as a shocking development, social interventionists in the UK have failed at reducing teen pregnancy by tossing around condoms, introducing at risk girls to promiscuous ones, and teaching the whole gaggle the proper (and various) ways to do it.

In the Daily Mail:

The Government-backed scheme tried to persuade teenage girls not to get pregnant by handing out condoms and teaching them about sex.

But research funded by the Department of Health shows that young women who attended the programme, at a cost of £2,500 each, were 'significantly' more likely to become pregnant than those on other youth programmes who were not given contraception and sex advice.

A total of 16 per cent of those on the Young People's Development Programme conceived compared with just 6 per cent in other programmes.

Experts said the scheme failed because it introduced girls 'at risk' of becoming pregnant to promiscuous girls they might not otherwise have met.

Because of peer pressure, the more timid teenagers were more likely to have sex and become pregnant.
What? Sex and pregnancy are somehow tied together? Where do the storks come in?

The article includes this case study:
Case study - Lucy Lanelly

By the time she reached the age of consent, Lucy Lanelly had become pregnant four times.

And on each occasion the teenager from Toll Bar, South Yorkshire, had an abortion.

Now 19, she became pregnant at 12 after a single encounter with a 15-year-old boy.

She was then given a three-month contraceptive jab but failed to get another one.

The following year Lucy became pregnant by a 19-year-old man at a party. Her third pregnancy was by a 15-year-old boy who said he was infertile.

The last pregnancy was by her boyfriend Jack, 20, when a condom failed.

Lucy said: 'I don't regret having the terminations because I was too young to have a baby, but I do regret having sex when I wasn't mature enough to deal with it.'
Sooner or later, probably much later, feel good social engineers will finally figure out that the tearing apart of the nuclear family was not a good thing. Except, of course, that it is the social engineers and abortion clinics that most benefit from an unending stream of aimless children with neither compasses of morality nor responsibility.

Hat tip Protein Wisdom via Cold Fury

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Glint in Daddy's Dead Arm

It is being billed as a major breakthrough that could lead to the end of male infertility. It is also a step being taken by medical science that opens many more doors to abuse than it ever would to benefit.

Professor Karim Nayernia has created the chemicals and process through which stem cells can be transformed into sperm cells.

The stem cells used were taken from embryos in the first days of life but the professor hopes to repeat his success with skin cells taken from a man's arm. These would first be exposed to a mixture that wound back their biological clocks to embryonic stem cell state, before being transformed into sperm.

Using IVF techniques, the artificial sperm could be injected into eggs, allowing men who do not produce sperm to father children of their own.


But the researcher also acknowledged that the technique could potentially be applied to skin cells taken from men who have been dead for many years, allowing them to 'father' children.
Not to be too dramatic, but could parentless children be created for the purpose of medical experimentation? Could tinpot dictators resupply their armies with thousands of parentless wards of the state for the sole purpose of carrying a rifle? Could grieving wives or parents try and replace their loved ones with the fruit of harvested skin cells in something strangely reminiscent of Pet Semetary. Nah, never happen.

In the absence of any of those crazy potential scenarios, we already have this unsettling one:
Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: 'To take a viable human embryo and destroy it in a bid to create dodgy sperm to create a not-so-healthy embryo is experimentation for experimentation's sake.
The impractical among us might have said the same thing about Mengele.

A Good Man Gets it Wrong

Pope Benedict has delivered a letter to Catholics everywhere and to other "people of goodwill."

He writes as reported at the BBC:

"Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end," he wrote.

"Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty."

He warned that globalisation, properly managed, could "open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale".

But badly directed, it could "lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and could even trigger a global crisis".
I applaud the good sentiment in these paragraphs but beyond sentiment most of the ideas advocated here are decidedly what helped to create much of the strife we see in the world today.

Of course I am not supportive of fraud or theft. Where I differ with the pontiff is in his declaration that all profit must be pursued with the common good in mind and that profit pursued for profit's sake 'risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.'

It has been said that poverty is the human condition. Or at least it was the human condition until free markets were allowed to operate devoid of tyranny and widespread corruption. What we see now on Earth, in those areas where economic freedom abounds, is people living better than humans have ever lived in the history of this planet. These living standards were not the creation of profit earned for the purpose of the common good, but rather the simple byproducts of profitable operations.

Look at China. It was not until the communist dictators of China relaxed their economic "common good" vice on the people that the economy began to explode reportedly rescuing 1,000,000 Chinese from poverty a month! Similar situations are becoming evident in places such as Vietnam and India.

Foil that with Hugo Chavez' Venezuela where reportedly the "common good" is the goal of his excellency. The economy is in shambles while one by one the nation's industries are being swallowed up for "the people."

I am not suggesting that Pope Benedict is in league with Chavez or that he is anything but a decent, caring man. What I am suggesting is that he has a woefully inadequate understanding of how economies run and how successful ones, regardless of motivation, end up benefiting the weakest among us.

A strong economy and its greed driven profits are much better friends to humanity than is any endeavor undertaken solely for "the common good."

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Moment Wasted is a Billion Saved!

Look at the bright side, at least when our glorified caretakers are preparing motions of crap like this they are thankfully not authoring initiatives that will waste billions of taxpayer dollars.

I hope Congress spends 1,000 hours debating!

Too Late to the Debate

There has been an ongoing and rousing discussion over at Right Michigan the past few days concerning health care. I was out for the weekend and did not have time to give them my two cents worth.

When I finally did have a chance to sit down today I discovered that my comment was probably too long for anyone to read particularly as the 61st comment. So I thought I would post it here. At least here I am wasting Google's resources.

Here goes...

I hate to burst the bubble of everyone here, but there is no solution to the rising cost of health care if we are to accept the parameters and definitions that are being hoisted on the health care infrastructure by advocates. No solution at all. And, I'm an optimist!

The only reason that anyone can afford car insurance or house insurance or life insurance these days is because these insurances operate differently than does health insurance. In all of these other insurances the risk is spread out among all policy holders while at the same time what we are insuring against is the anomalous. (Life insurance has a few variations but is principally the same.)

There would be no affordable automobile insurance if each and every car on the road was wiped out by accident every few years. No, what we see in junkyards are primarily cars that spent their 15-20 years on the road and then rusted out, or had an engine blow out, or lost a transmission, etc. In these cases the car is no is longer worth the investment of a major overhaul to its owner. Therefore the risk of vehicles that were tragically smashed can be spread among all cars driven because, thankfully, most cars are not destroyed by smashing.

But advocates want health insurance to be different, and because of this they are not peddling insurance as we have grown to understand the term at all. There is currently little spreading of the risk in health insurance because death is not anomalous and postponing death is very expensive.

Enter our savior, the government.

First, our government is already inextricably linked to health care. This began years back when an earlier generation of bureaucrats thought they could solve the problems of health care. Then later generations of bureaucrats thought that they could fix the blunders of the older bureaucrats. Alas, they ultimately created even more complicated blunders. Wash, rinse and repeat. Forward that until we now have a system so complicated with bureaucracy and regulation that now, short of a total government bankruptcy and ensuing anarchy, government will always have its big fat butt firmly planted in our doctors' offices, forever.

Our government is notorious for attempting to manipulate the price of things, especially when they are footing so much of the bill. Of course, price and cost are two different things, and by arbitrarily reducing the price of health care and not considering the associated costs we will automatically get a shortage of supply. This shortage will include personnel, equipment, hospital bed space, more advanced medications, etc. That does not mean that there will not be any advances here and there, but it does mean that the rate of advance will be significantly curtailed, and that these advancements will be themselves only available to qualified patients.

As shortages become more and more apparent, rationing will become more and more necessary because the need for care will grow with the complications created by rationing. (You know, when that nasty growing mole that could have been removed routinely was allowed to grow into full fledged malignant melanoma that will require a surgical team to remove.) Rationing will not only amount to long delays in appointments and procedures but will also entail a designation of patient qualification. Certain patients will no longer be considered for certain procedures. The 80 year old will no longer get bypass surgery. The 70 year old can forget about that new hip. The 60 year old can kiss his Viagra (and perhaps his wife) goodbye. The 50 year old will finally be able to get that mammogram, though the mastectomy cannot be scheduled any sooner than 8 months after the tests are finally read.

Health care providers, if they want to keep their license, will ultimately be denied the right to operate outside the bounds of the system. This is the only way to make certain that all the rules of the game are followed. The rich, of course, will still get their care, they will just do so by flying to India or another nation willing to capitalize on our shortcomings. Rich Canadians will also go to India because the hospitals in Detroit and Buffalo will no longer be able to accept Canada's elite. I would not expect all of these things to happen in the first year or even five years, but they would develop over time as the system itself begins to creak under the weight of its own constraints and as the next generation of advocates try to fix the problems caused by the most recent fix.

The problem is, of course, that today's system, though not "national health care" is still replete with so many glitches that costs have outpaced the ability of many to pay. We also have to recognize that research and the introduction of new medicines and equipment are hugely expensive and that these costs are largely borne by the medical customer of this country because it is here, in our current system, that most of these advances are made. That is why I (amongst millions of others) do not have health insurance today. So, I am not defending the status quo, though I do believe it is a better system than it will become when it is ultimately handed over to any President and his group of bureaucrats.

I recognize that we have a dilemma and few people are happy with the way that health care costs have risen of late. Yet, the only proposal gaining any traction these days has been to enact a national system that will do little but add layer upon layer of bureaucracy to the current disaster. No one has had the backbone to suggest that government be totally extricated from the problem it by and large created.

The fact is that health care has always been rationed. In the past the free market allowed for rationing on the basis of wealth. The rich got everything they wanted, the middle class got most of what they wanted on the installment plan, and the poor did without or received the charity of the rich. But wealth has never been a acceptable way to dole out care, particularly when, as a percentage of population, poor and middle class people outnumber the rich, and it is voters that will drive the debate.

So, what we will ultimately end up with will be a system where rationing is decided by the bureaucrats, but this only after they have successfully absconded with another few percentage points of GDP. The new system will not be as efficient, it will reduce medical advances, it will strongly contract the medical industry, will lead to a shorter life expectancy in this country, and it will slowly restrict the freedom of citizens that wish to engage in sinful activities that might drive up the cost of Uncle Sam's medical bills such as smoking, consuming sugary drinks, eating fried foods or pork, riding a bicycle without a helmet, or mountain climbing. These intrusions into our private lives would have been enough to send the founding fathers to war. Today we are better at hurling insults.

Given a choice, and I say this as a non wealthy man, I really would prefer a system where wealth and common sense (providing free medical care to indigent illegal aliens and death row and other heinous criminals is insane) dictated who received care. When you lift the stifling hand of government off of the free market we get a much better product that is more affordable to everyone.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Politics is not for the Common Man

Can we, for a moment, forget that Sarah Palin is inexplicably perhaps the most despised political figure of today? Can we also forget that she is perhaps the most inexplicably popular poster child for a major political party?

Really, can we forget about Sarah Palin's politics for a moment? I'd like to look at her as a generic politician, neither savior nor devil. I would like to talk about her as if she was you or me.

Knowing what we know today, would any one of us take on the task of running for political office and subjecting our families to the sort of abuse that goes with it? Sure, it has been said, and it is certainly the truth, that the abuse of one's self and one's family goes with the quest for higher office. That internal desire to try and serve the public means that you will have approximately half of the population wishing you would shut up and willing to employ any strategy, regardless of how disturbing, to get you to do so?

Now, from what I have read, it does not appear that Sarah Palin is necessarily retreating from her Alaskan governorship to flee the hatred, though that is much of the speculation. Some are also saying that this flight from Juneau could mean that she is unemcumbering herself from the responsibilities of Governor so that she can begin to pursue a higher office. This was not specifically stated by Palin either.

My question is, do we want all of our politicians to be so thick skinned as a prerequisite for running for office, that as a bare minimum they have to be nearly sociopathic in nature to survive the taunting and accusations?

Mark Steyn has some thoughts.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Obama's Feelings Trump Troop Level Needs

How is it that the American people elected such a dizzying nincompoop to the office of president at the same time we were engaged in two wars? Oh sure, we were also involved in a tremendous downturn in the economy for which we needed a steadying hand. Thankfully Obama claims he has defeated that little problem, this during the same month when another 450,000 people joined the unemployment lines.

Jules Crittenden gets the thanks for alerting me toward this report on an astonishing conversation that took place at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan between Obama's National Security Adviser James L. Jones and commanders in the field.

From Bob Woodward at the Washington Post:

During the briefing, Nicholson had told Jones that he was "a little light," more than hinting that he could use more forces, probably thousands more. "We don't have enough force to go everywhere," Nicholson said.

But Jones recalled how Obama had initially decided to deploy additional forces this year. "At a table much like this," Jones said, referring to the polished wood table in the White House Situation Room, "the president's principals met and agreed to recommend 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan." The principals -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gates; Mullen; and the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair -- made this recommendation in February during the first full month of the Obama administration. The president approved the deployments, which included Nicholson's Marines.

Soon after that, Jones said, the principals told the president, "oops," we need an additional 4,000 to help train the Afghan army.

"They then said, 'If you do all that, we think we can turn this around,' " Jones said, reminding the Marines here that the president had quickly approved and publicly announced the additional 4,000.

Now suppose you’re the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.
Here we have the National Security Adviser suggesting that officers in a dynamic field of war consider the feelings of Barack Obama before they mention their troop level needs.
Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have "a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment." Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF -- which in the military and elsewhere means "What the [expletive]?"
You name an organization anywhere where the people who cannot communicate their needs openly with their bosses and I can point out to you an inefficient and ineffective operation.

Heaven help our armed forces and the people who they have been charged to protect. The good Lord knows we don't want our president's feelings disturbed. Priorities and all that.

Barney Frank: Mr. Consistent

One of the selling points of TARP (and I know I am using the term "selling points" with abandon) was that much of the money invested would, if the banking industry stabilized, return a profit to the taxpayers. The bill included a provision saying that profits from the program "shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt."

With the taxpayers on the hook for an astonishing amount of money, the idea that some dividends might be returned to the general fund to help pay off the enormous debt was thought of as at least a small silver lining in a huge dark cloud. Perhaps the taxpayers would be on the hook for a few billion less than was advertised.

Enter Barney Frank.

The wanton Massachusetts legislator has found a better use for the money than to pay down the debts of the taxpayers. Frank, one of the masterminds of the current financial crisis and perhaps the most significant apologist for Fannie and Freddie in their run up to insolvency, would rather see some of the money funneled into a trust fund that he could control to help with low income rental housing and would like to see additional portions of the profits funneled to support "neighborhood stabilization."

In case no one remembers, it was the artificial propping of low income housing that was partially responsible for this huge debacle to begin with, and it was extreme pressure from "neighborhood stabilization" groups that literally forced many lending institutions to engage in risky lending practices when they had failed to voluntarily do so at the government's urging. Now Frank, a dim bulb in a club of dim bulbs, wants to skim some of the few profits that might be realized by the TARP program and shove them right back down the same rat holes.

I suppose it should be comforting to me that at least some of our fearless leaders in Congress are consistent.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sanford and his creeping Creepiness

How clueless can a man be? Here is a guy sitting atop all of politics in the state of South Carolina.

He has a supporting wife, wonderful children, was well thought of in his state, and had a growing national respect for the way he steadfastly resisted the windfall of federal stimulus. Admittedly, I had only heard Mark Stanford's name a few times prior to this past year and the stimulus brouhaha, but he was a man that spoke forcefully and seemed to want to do what he thought was right.

As it turns out though, Sanford's idea of right and wrong had little to do with his wife or his family or even his job. He put each and every one of these things behind his desire to score a few women.

Now, of course, he is apologetic. He is sorry for hurting his wife. He is very sorry for hurting his kids. And he is very, very sorry for letting down the people of South Carolina who had entrusted him with such responsibility, but mostly he is sorry that he might now lose his job for being a rudderless git.

Any man that cared for his children and had any desire to heal his marriage would put his political career out of his mind and try to work toward mitigating his gittiness. He would try to lessen the shame that he has heaped so thickly on those in his personal life that he has cared for almost as much as he has cared for himself.

But it seems that Mark Sanford has a better way and that is to slowly uncloak the true depths of his creepiness in front of the whole world so that the suffering of his wife and children can go on without any abandon.

Nice. This is just the kind of guy we need to see hang on in politics.