Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Resolute New Year

cross posted at Right Michigan

By nearly any qualitative or quantitative measurement, this has been a disastrous year for both Michigan and the USA. Even hardened and crotchety progressives look to the hope and promise of a prosperous future because their todays are little more liked than those owned by conservatives.

The America of today is not the America that Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay envisioned at this nation's birth. Thankfully, it is also not the America envisioned by Jennifer Granholm, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.

We sit somewhere within an intersection of the two visions. One, a vision of individual liberty painted by some of the greatest thinkers in the history of human kind, and a second vision that yearns for a collectivist society where all of humanity works for the betterment of all humanity--individuals be damned.

Steadily, and with few interruptions over the past several decades, our America has drifted from the former vision toward that of the latter. This change has not come without severe repercussions, and it is these repercussions that have laid all of America low.

I have spent a lot of my last year opining on the dreadful consequences of progressives chasing a Utopian society armed with little more than emotions, ignorance, and naivete. I've talked about unemployment and listlessness, of poverty and hunger, of freedom and its loss. I've also griped about government intrusion into the lives of citizens, and businesses. I've complained about tax policy, spending policy, education policy, energy policy, the military, foreign affairs, domestic affairs, and even the affairs of David Paterson. (Come on men, would you ever feel a need to cheat on that?)

What I'm left with, unfortunately, at the end of this year is what feels like a huge coating of yuck. It is hard to feel any other way.

We are a hair's width from having nationalized health care imposed on this country. We are but a few months from having taxes imposed on individuals and corporations that will further restrict economic growth. We are conceivably but a few months away from Cap and Trade legislation that will impose on America a literal guilt of prosperity so profound as to transcend all political borders on Earth. We have government reaching onto private property to seize cigarettes, fatty foods, water, sugary drinks, and evil bulbs of light. Soon even our hemorrhoids might belong to the macabre Harry Reid. (Who else is going to vote for that guy's reelection?)

In a world of madness, it would be easy to get just as mad in response, and easier still to pick up the toys and go home.

This is precisely why the conservative movement must stay firmly rooted in its ideals and conservative principles--the only thing standing between the America envisioned by our Founding Fathers and the vision of American Utopia as divined by Jennifer Granholm, is the steadfastness of conservatives.

This is not a time for the weak willed conservative. If we throw up our hands and retreat from this fight in disgust, regardless of all the disasters of the past year, we are going to like even less the results that a retreat from political action on the part of conservatives will produce.

Backbone. Steadfastness. Diligence.

There are a lot of words out there that could describe what the conservative movement must have in the year ahead as we approach the 2010 elections.

I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of Jimmy Valvano until after his battle with cancer became public. I quickly learned that he was a man of steely resolve. There were times that I believe that Jimmy V. felt the fight itself was what it was all about; that he couldn't sweat the details of his disease on a daily basis, but that he knew that if he fought with everything that he had on every single day, that he was doing all that he could, and doing nothing less than what should ever be expected of him.

"Don't ever give up," were simple words of wisdom that he delivered behind many tightly gripped podiums beamed across all of America, and, until after he took his last breath, he never did. Conservatives could find few better people from which to take a life lesson.

If and when we go down, we should go down swinging. Samuel Adams wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An AGW Nightmare

Well, not a nightmare so much as incidents that, if paid any heed, might indicate clearly to those who care to notice that man, in all his resident glory, is not the true controller of everything climate.

Watts Up With That has two articles today that discuss some potentially climate affecting incidents over which man has not one iota of control. A volcanic eruption in the Philippines, and some new sunspots on that little noticed ball of fire we have in the sky.

A single major volcanic eruption would produce more climate affectations than man could even attempt to cause in a decade or two, and an extended eruption of sunspots could potentially rain down on this planet enough energy to melt mile thick ice sheets that took thousands of years to form.

Meanwhile, despite the approval for the building of a clean coal electrical generation facility near Bay City in Michigan, two additional plants remain on hold because of their potential to affect the Earth's climate.

The single approval was enough to spur a disappointed Clean Water Action Michigan Director Cyndi Roper to lament:

“The federal government has declared coal pollutants a threat to human health. Every other state is investing in clean energy, creating jobs and turning away from coal,” Roper said in the statement.
Somewhere, the Gods of volcano and sun are busting a gut.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tigh Croff

The man was tired of being victimized. Who wouldn't be?

Three break ins in the past week, and a fourth incident erupting in his back yard, Croff had been a victim one time too often.

During Monday's early morning hours two men entered his back yard. Croff, a licensed gun owner, chased the two men out of his yard and into the cold night. One of the men, a 53 year old loser, finally stopped his flight, turned, and taunted Croff. "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

The man, an unarmed 53 year old Herbert Silas, received his answer full in the chest, and died.

I am not a big supporter of vigilante justice, particularly after Silas had already fled the premises of Croff and was obviously no longer an immediate danger to the homeowner. Perhaps Croff deserves the 2nd degree murder charges he now faces.

Still, there is something systemically (to utilize a particularly popular word today) wrong with a neighborhood or city when a homeowner can in effect plan on being burglarized on a weekly basis with no recourse. Such victimization without any hope of police intervention would drive the best of us into a state of frenzy; frenzy enough to finally say enough is enough.

I certainly don't applaud the death of Silas, but I have difficulty, given what few facts are available, in condemning Croff. A man's property, whether owned or rented, should remain his property, and a 53 year old man ought to know enough that to trespass on another man's property is at least a stroll on thin ice.

Perhaps if a few more Detroiters were legally armed there would be fewer predators running the streets looking for this week's victims, and perhaps too there might be fewer burned out vacant buildings serving as evidence that a once great city had lost its will to survive.

NYC To Get Terrorist Security Stimulus Boost

Or something.

Initial security cost estimates for the the trial of five Gitmo terrorists in NYC are significantly low, this according to police commissioner Ray Kelly. Of course, the initial guess was a paltry $75 million.

The NYPD says there aren't enough officers to handle trial security, so much of the cost will come from overtime and it will be impossible to accomplish without federal funds.
The decisions to hold civilian trials for these enemy combatants on American soil, and to close the detention facility at Gitmo are looking more and more foolish as time goes on.

It is time for the President to cut his losses and embrace the Guantanamo detention center as the safest, most cost effective, and most efficient venue in which to both house and try these terrorists. Nothing good can come out of this move onto American soil, that is, other than the long procession of embarrassing and dangerous incidents that will undoubtedly attach themselves to the President's sour puss over the next couple of years.

As a person that has thoroughly enjoyed this president's many embarrassments, I don't think comedic relief is enough of an incentive for even me to encourage him on this course of ultimate ridicule.

Please Mr. President, do the right thing. Change course. Announce that Club Gitmo will stay open. Tell Europe to kiss your ass.

Out of Pocket, Not Dead

I've been busy with Christmas over the past couple of days and then spent today on the road to Lansing and back.

Now my butt is shaped like the front seat of an old Buick.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Smaller Christmas Gathering

As the end of 2009 approaches on the eve of another Christmas holiday, we are faced once again with the grim reality of Michigan. For the first time in nearly a decade, Michigan's population has dipped below ten million people. Detroit, the flagship of our state, long ago fell well beneath the one million population mark and incidentally, its public school enrollment has plummeted to less than 100,000 students.

As the state's population continues to free fall, the nation's overall population continues to creep upwards, making the size of Michigan's US congressional districts one of the few things within the Great Lakes State that seems to be growing of late.

Of course population migration is nothing new to Michigan or this country for that matter--it is a legacy of this free people. For much of its history as a state, Michigan was largely frontier and sparsely populated. It wasn't until the manufacturing boom of the Detroit area that the state's population began to rocket. In 1900, just eight years before Henry Ford's first Model T rolled out of the factory, Michigan's population stood at a little under 2.25 million. By 1930 that population had doubled, and by 1960, an additional three million people could call themselves Michiganders.

These people didn't come to Michigan hoping for the jobs of tomorrow--they came chasing the jobs of their day.

They didn't flee the south and the east and the west because Michigan had wonderful schools, spectacular libraries and museums, beautiful waters and woods, smooth roads, or prisons that actually kept people behind bars. They didn't come because of the fire or police departments.

These people came to work in Michigan's factories, and for wages that were beyond what any had ever hoped to make before in their lives.

Many of them left family and friends behind. They left the homes of their childhood, and homesteads where the soils had been spent on cotton and tobacco. Michigan in those days promised the dream of a job, and it was worth sacrificing a life's worth of memories and sweat to realize.

These are truths too often overlooked by people charged with steering our state into the decades and centuries ahead. Businesses are the engine that drives the growth of a robust economy; they create jobs, and wealth, and make public services possible for everyone to enjoy. When those glistening automobiles first began rolling off the assembly line only two short generations ago, Michigan provided the rich industrial soil from which businesses could spring.

Alas, Michigan's industrial soil of today is not quite so fertile.

We are a heavily regulated state. We are a heavily taxed state. We are home to what is arguably the most adversarial workforce in the history of the human race. What is perhaps worst of all is that our elected officials have forgotten that people chase jobs, and jobs do not chase people. When it comes to building a sound economy, too many of our elected leaders have it exactly backwards.

Our elected officials are hurriedly erecting a crippling infrastructure of taxation and regulation and operating expense in which many formerly thriving businesses cannot continue to survive, and in which other businesses looking to expand here are rarely foolhardy enough to actually do so without bribes.

It was reported the other day on M-Live that Jennifer Granholm has but one year to shape her legacy. I'm don't believe this is true as her legacy seems quite well formed to me.

A case in point, this year there will be some 32,000 fewer people celebrating Christmas in Michigan than there was only one year ago. With any luck they will still visit.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

DNR Spins Hunting Safety

While a horrible economy wreaks havoc on every portion of Michigan's economy, it is never above the bureaucrats in Lansing to do a little self-promotion. This was Michigan's safest firearm season ever recorded according to glowing DNR reports in Lansing.

“Most of the credit goes to the nearly 3,000 Michigan volunteer Hunter Education instructors across the state,” said Jon Wood, program supervisor for the DNR’s Hunter Education Program. “Without their dedication and professionalism, the sport of hunting would not be as safe as it is now.”
Of course, as it turns out, 2009 was also one of the safer deer hunting seasons for the prey as well. The 2009 deer harvest is estimated to be down 10%-20% from last year.

I am all for safety, and I don't suggest that hunter's safety training isn't integral to a state's ability to reduce accidents. So, wear orange, big guy!

But, the most important factor in reducing hunting accidents is a drop in the number of hunting participants. Fewer hunters, fewer targets, fewer projectiles...voila!...fewer accidents. It is hard to view these developments as anything but a sad failure for not only those in charge of Michigan's statehouse, but also the DNR who is charged with the promotion of hunting and the preservation of a healthy game population.

Funny, I don't see the DNR puffing its chest out over that one.

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis the Season

Christmas shopping and blogging do not necessarily mix, especially when I have to travel nearly an hour to get to a town that has much more than a dollar store and a gas station.

I hope to get something out tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Garrison Keillor Wishes Most Everyone a Merry Christmas

And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write ‘Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah’? No, we didn’t. Christmas is a Christian holiday—if you’re not in the club, then buzz off.
h/t Cold Fury

Friday, December 18, 2009


that Jennifer Granholm decided to ceremonially sign into law a Michigan smoking ban while standing in a smoke-free brew pub in Lansing.

It may have been lost on her.

A Smaller Fish in a Much Smaller Pond

It is thrilling.


In the domestic auto industry, Michigan used to be the biggest fish in a very big pond. Now it has to give away money it does not have in the mere hopes of being a competitive fish in a much smaller pond. This because government, labor, and the big three were too dumb to take care of the pond they used to have.

Michigan's pinheaded political, labor, and business leaders have nearly destroyed its signature industry through regulation, irrational labor costs, and mismanagement.

Consumers became an afterthought to an industry more interested in churning out overpriced crap than it was interested in providing value to consumers who worked in other industries where sane compensation levels were not controlled by maladjusted labor goons begging for the apocalypse. If that isn't true, how else can you explain the Vega, Maverick, and Pacer?

Now, after the collapse has occurred, all three members of that nincompoopish triad are fighting over the scraps of a new industry that at its peak may only amount to a fraction of the industry they once used to blindly and thoughtlessly control.

In celebration I've come up with a new motto for our fair state.

Michigan...we're willing to tie a hunk of meat around our necks so the dogs will play with us. (I hope they don't bite the throat.)
It's a bit wordy, not at all original, and I doubt it will ever fit on a license plate. Which, come to think of it, is sort of appropriate.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saving the Planet One Public School Child at a Time

cross posted at Right Michigan

I would have thought, errantly as it turns out, that at least one member of our esteemed Michigan Senate would have considered getting back to basics in education when looking at the crushed state of our economy and the embarrassing condition of our largest public school district.

Alas, not a peep. Maybe later, but not on this particular vote.

Instead the Senate passed by a unanimous 37-0 tally, a revision to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. This is the act that, among other things, encouraged children to monitor the air pressure of school bus tires, to clean the coils of refrigerators and freezers, to caulk around and place plastic on windows, and to lower water heater temperatures by one degree all in the pursuit of an enlightened "Green" rating.

After-gym showers got uncomfortably cold after each member of Mrs. Smith's overcrowded 3rd grade class took a crack at the heater's dial.

This act, even as modified, could potentially go a long way toward saving the planet and the state's budget too! Just think about how much money schools could save if they take it just one small step further and, with a wink-wink and a good solid nudge, encourage the students to do all the duties of janitors, engineers, and bus drivers.

"If that tire won't hold air Sally, just put the bus on a jack and I'll have some forth graders come by later and change the tire."

The revised act is much less specific in its requirements but introduces two additional levels of awards to participating schools. "Emerald", and "Evergreen" join "Green" as possible Environmental Stewardship Designations, the level earned dependent on how many Earth friendly activities the school and its students engage in. Apparently the one designation fits all award didn't sound like enough compensation for kids climbing on ladders and caulking windows.

Areas of participation in the revised legislation include a recycling category that encourages the recycling of school supplies, composting, creating a waste-free lunch program, and using recycled, biodegradable, locally produced, or less toxic food and school supplies. (If cafeteria food has not improved a lot since I was in school, for extra credit I'd suggest recycling leftover pizza as a potential roofing material.)

There is also an energy category that could include offering at least one teaching unit on alternative energy, using alternative energy, renewable fuels, or specialized energy-efficient technology in school operations, implementing a school energy-saving program, performing energy audits at student homes and educating student families and the community, taking part in a project or event to promote improved vehicle fuel efficiency, and sponsoring an alternative energy presentation, project, or event.

"Dad, do you mind if Mrs. Jones stops by with her class to check our dryer's lint catcher?"

"Not at all, Son. Ask her if she can bring along some Cling Free."

The environmental protection category includes the following activities: participating in activities promoting the health of the Great Lakes watershed, offering a teaching unit on environmental issues facing this state, establishing or maintaining a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, establishing or maintaining an animal habitat project, participating in a local community environmental issue by activities such as letter-writing, attending public hearings, raising funds, or through community outreach.

"Hey, sweetie."

"Yes Dad?"

"Mrs. Anderson called. She wants you and your class to stop harassing her for watering twice a week."

Then there is a catchall category that could include adopting an endangered or threatened species and publicizing the activity, hosting an environmental or energy speaker, event, or field trip, establishing a student organization that participates in environmental activities, observing earth day by participating in an earth day event in April, maintaining an updated bulletin board or kiosk with information on environmental concerns and the school's actions in addressing those concerns, establishing an eco-reading program, updating the school's media center environmental materials, and visiting internet sites that educate about the environment and support endangered ecosystems.

"Dad, can I have $20 for school?"

"What do you need $20 for?"

"We're celebrating earth day tomorrow and Mr. Johnson wants to have some cash on hand in case he needs to get bailed out."

How could I possibly be so resistant to the initiatives of saving energy, money, whales, and the planet?

Honestly, my beef isn't with all of these individual items as many of them could be important learning tools. My beef is that school children are being encouraged by our government to become adherent pawns of a leftist political movement that is being ferociously challenged on its scientific and ethical merits.

As a denizen of this earth, I am not an advocate of ruining our planet by poisoning the water, polluting the air, or destroying ecosystems. I am a believer of evidence and believe the pursuit of truth does not necessarily run through the climate controlled cabin of Albert William Gore's private jet aircraft. Seriously, this is a guy that believes that the temperature of the earth is several million degrees just a couple kilometers below the surface, yet he still thinks one way to help solve our energy crisis is to starve third world children so that I can shove corn into my gas tank. I'm supposed to take my cues from that stupid git?

I love the idea that schools might save some money by insulating and caulking some windows. I'm pro saving money! I like it that their buses might drive on inflated tires and get better fuel efficiency. I'm pro saving fuel! Hey, I can buy into the lowering trash disposal costs by reducing the waste stream. I'm pro reusing resources if it is cost effective! Funny, tough economic times should already have necessitated these changes, even prior to our children becoming recruited as eco-warriors.

But it doesn't end there, now does it.

As soon as the guest speaker of the month comes into the school and starts preaching about the polar bears losing their environment, I want someone on the other side showing the satellite images that prove this to be untrue.

As soon as a guest speaker comes in and lauds Rachel Carson and her advocacy, I want thousands of pictures of the graves of third world children who needlessly died from tropical diseases because of the directives of her minions. Which, come to think of it, might make a world wide one-child policy moot, so there is that.

As soon as a guest speaker comes in and chirps about our country's nasty habit of emitting CO2, I want someone to make the counterargument that CO2 is considered by many scientists as being irrelevant in the AGW debate, could possibly be beneficial to the planet if greenery is any indication, or, in our current absence of any definitive scientific proof, is not entirely understood to be either helpful or harmful.

When a guest speaker comes into the classroom to tout the green benefits of corn ethanol, I wouldn't mind seeing him drink a nice nourishing glass of the stuff neath the poster of a starving African child, though he probably shouldn't be allowed to drive himself home afterward.

Are all of these suggestions dumb? Of course not.

Lets let the kids adopt a panda or one of Nancy Pelosi's salt marsh harvest mice. Let them learn about species on the brink of extinction like the snow leopard and the California condor. But, let them learn too that when the deer herd begins to starve in the depths of a heavy Michigan winter, that it isn't PETA or Nancy Pelosi that scatters hay to keep Bambi from buying the farm.

As hard as it is to believe for some people, people who do not swallow everything spewed by environmentalists are not necessarily enemies of the earth, and parents who don't want their children to be propagandized by the serially incorrect Al Gore ought to have someone speaking on their behalf during certain portions of these greening programs.

I think it is safe to say, however, that that someone will not be a member of the Michigan senate. It simply isn't worth the effort of showing up at the fight.

More from Jack McHugh at the Mackinac Center.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cincinnati Farm Team

The news began ticking across the bottom of my television last night....Central Michigan's Butch Jones to be named the new head football coach at Cincinnati...

Nuts...not again!

For the second time in three years the Cincinnati Bearcats looked no farther than Mt. Pleasant to find themselves someone new to run its BCS football program. And now, for the second time in three years, the Chippewas will need to find itself a new coach the hard way, by looking to Division II schools or entering into the exhaustive process of finding a capable head coach among the assistants working at numerous major football programs in the country, an effort that the Bearcats feel it cannot afford to undertake.

It is a system that offends everyone but the most storied of football programs, and while Cincinnati is a likely target of venom these days in Mt. Pleasant, it only "poached" the coach of CMU two times recently because it too had been poached by larger programs that could afford to offer more money, more prestige, and likely more headlines than the school spurned. (Three years ago Cincinnati lost Mark Dantonio to Michigan State of the Big Ten, and last week it lost Brian Kelly to NBC's Notre Dame.)

Not to be forgotten, this is an important time of year for college football programs. The regular season has just completed and schools must either prepare for successful season ending bowl game appearances (like Cincinnati and CMU) or must begin assembling new coaching staffs to replace the ones that alums demanded be ousted (like Notre Dame.)

While most major recruits by this juncture have made verbal commitments to a coach and a program, they have not signed anything. They may open up their recruitment again rather than settle for a program in transition from one coach to another. Those athletes who are already on the roster are not quite so lucky because they must sit out a full year of playing football in order to enroll in another school. While coaches can collect this week's paycheck from CMU or Cincinnati and collect next week's from Cincinnati or Notre Dame (along with a signing bonus,) a student athlete cannot even transfer his credits so easily.

The system is the way that it is because of money, and at this point the powers that be in the NCAA like it exactly the way that it is. Big name conferences and other established programs such as Notre Dame have been milking the golden cow for years now. They have the huge stadiums, the state of the art training facilities, the huge television contracts, the bowl tie ins, the hottest selling merchandise, and get the lion's share of the media attention, even if CMU did defeat MSU this year at East Lansing.

CMU of the MAC is not a BCS program and its league champion does not automatically qualify for a Bowl Championship Series. Cincinnati of the Big East, despite belonging to a BCS conference and being one small second away from playing for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl, does not have the established football history or the money to keep a head coach on staff that it feels it helped groom on its way to the top.

The coaching carousel never stops. If, in three or four more years, Butch Jones' replacement at CMU wins a couple more MAC titles, goes to some bowls, beats a couple more BCS opponents, and can land his team inside the top 25, he too will pack his bags to go coach a team with deeper pockets and a chance to play for a national championship. If Cincinnati is lucky, by that time Butch Jones will again be ready to take his career another step higher on the coaching ladder. Who knows, maybe to a school that seats around 80,000 and seemingly owns its own television network.

As defeatist as it might sound for this CMU grad to utter, the best thing for both schools might be for the carousel to continue to turn right at home, the result of two programs who continued to win while trapped within a system designed to have them lose.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Public School Idiocy

This time in Massachusetts, though, in fairness to Massachusetts, we should look to them first when it comes to social policy idiocy.

When given an assignment to draw a picture that reminded him of Christmas, an eight year old student drew a stick figure of Jesus hanging on the cross. The figure had the eyes of Jesus crossed out.

What to make of it? Well, the school did its best to get to the bottom of the whole scandal and after careful consideration suspended the child from school and forced him to take a psychological evaluation (at the parent's expense) before he was allowed back into the classroom. They feared that the eight year old's drawing might be indicative of a child too violent to be taught alongside other children.

As a result of this incident, no teachers or administrators have yet been suspended for being too stupid to be entrusted with the responsibility of educating eight year old children. We should be thankful no one was tasered.

h/t Michelle Malkin

America: A Cheap Violin

From the BBC:

"Closing the detention centre at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al-Qaeda," a US official said in a statement.

"[Tuesday's] announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives."
Only in some alternate universe could America become led by such a gaggle of self-loathing anti-Americans who would believe this helps our national security. We might as well have a security policy that amounts to crossing fingers.

Our leaders have allowed foreign and domestic America haters to control the debate about Guantanamo. We allowed them to change the language against us, to use the propaganda of terrorists against us, and to equate the pursuit of our own national interests and the protection of our citizens to the slaughter of innocents. One man's interrogator is another man's suicide bomber, or something.

Somehow, the closing of Guantanamo is supposed to make us safer because the baring of our throats will surely pacify our enemies. And, you know our enemies, they would never be able to create another false scandal to put America on the defensive. Sure, they are supportive of suicide bombings, of attacks on innocents, of the stoning of adulterers, of the hanging of thieves, of the burning of churches, and of riots over blasphemous ice cream treat labels, but they would never go so far as to create another faux scandal to use as a recruiting tool against American infidels.

The international soap boxes to be climbed on by our Guantanamo prisoner pals in their show trials could never be used as a recruiting event. This is because we have given them the rights to a fair civilian trial, and this is all they ever sought to begin with.
"Ahmed, sometimes I wish we could blow up all the infidels in America."

"Why do you say that Mahmoud? Surely you can see the Americans are giving our brothers a fair civilian trial."

"Of course you are right, Ahmed. I should just be content that they will all burn in Hell anyway."
America is being played like a cheap violin. Who elected these idiots into office?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Summing up the Democrat attitude in Michigan

From the comments attached to an article about John Cherry's proposed $118 million tax on bottled water to help pay for the recently cut Michigan Promise Scholarship Program.

Posted by bdl725:

FINALLY!!! if Nestle is *forced* to move out of state to steal somebody else's water, good riddance. Buying bottled water is ridiculous and irresponsible for 99% of the population of Michigan. Putting a tax on such a wasteful habit could bring back a broken promise as well as cure some of the population of a bad habit
Is it any wonder this state is in deep trouble? Too much taxation, too much regulation, too much spending, targeted bludgeoning of fellow citizens to alter undesired behavior, and consequently, too few employers and too few jobs.

One paragraph from an anonymous poster sums it all up.

It will all wash out though. That extra $118 million can always be diverted into unemployment compensation.

And Yet, Sudan Wonders...

why it must grovel before the world body seeking wealth that can only be created in other parts of the world.

Copenhagen Negotiators Walk Out (Surprise!)

The Copenhagen climate conference is being rendered down into an argument more easily understood than all that verbose sciency stuff. When allowed to simmer for a whole week as speaker after speaker announced with clarity that the world is doomed if change isn't initiated immediately despite whatever shell game the CRU has been engaged in, the world's most impoverished countries have pulled out of negotiations because not enough money is changing hands.

There are basically three groups of countries present in Copenhagen (okay, for simplicity's sake I'm simplifying,) first there are relatively wealthy countries that have historically agreed to handcuff their economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, relatively wealthy countries whose leaders agree in principle with handcuffing their economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but who have thus far been unable to get authority to sign their country onto the dotted line, and poorer third world countries who love the idea of having rich countries shift manufacturing to their poor lands.

Third world countries love this because they want as much consequence free investment in their countries as they can possibly get.

Should a rich country, such as the United States, agree to this insanity, in order to supply its consumers with products that require energy in manufacturing (which is everything) they would be forced to shift more and more of their production to countries who offer them a more economical (read much cheaper) option. (Can you say China?)

In addition to that, with crippling emissions standards being proposed that will be impossible to meet even after a great deal of manufacturing is shifted to third world countries, heavy taxation would also need to be applied to American businesses by the minions of Al Gore. After tacking on a substantial handling fee, this money can then be given to poor countries in an international equivalent of the Food Stamp program; the monies to be expended on cleaner manufacturing technology, bureaucracy, waste, paying off cronies, greasing the wheels, back scratching, propaganda efforts, presidential palaces, training of government supported militia, the crushing of dissent, and travel for future climate councils.

Is it any surprise then that third world countries have walked out of negotiations because the pot isn't yet sweet enough?

If rich countries want to handcuff themselves with the adoption of these rules so be it, but it is disingenuous to present this as anything other than what it is--a shakedown.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Writer Advocates World Adoption of China's One-Child Policy

I have been a bit miffed the last couple of days over Michigan's legislature doing its best to intrude on the rights of its citizens through a statewide smoking ban in all so-called public places.

Many, many, many people support the legislation. They do it primarily because they don't like smoke and they do not appreciate rude smokers. They fail to consider the implications of a tyrannical majority or power wielding government forcing its will on individuals. The smoking issue is being championed as a great leap forward in guaranteeing the safety and welfare of people. It is good for the many at the expense of the few.

How many steps beyond this point does it need to go before we start seeing suggestions that people need to have other behaviors curved for the betterment of society? We have the public health to consider, its education, its welfare. We have unpleasant odors, unpleasant sights, and unpleasant sounds.

We have the health of the planet to consider. Its water and air, its species, and its beauty. Indeed, in Copenhagen this week we had thousands of diplomats, reporters, and advocates meeting for the purpose of enacting sweeping economic changes designed to help control the planet's temperature.

If we have legislatures willing to dispense with individual rights in regards to smoking, and we already have governments willing to shove harmful policies down the throats of citizens to nudge our planet's temperature down a notch, how much more difficult is it to imagine that political hacks and advocates will begin calling for even more invasive techniques with which to enslave people?

I give you Diane Francis of the Financial Post.

The "inconvenient truth" overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.
Diane Francis is the mother of two.

h/t Drudge

Friday, December 11, 2009

Taxpayers to Foot Bill for Nazi's Cosmetics

A neo-Nazi will have his facial tattoos concealed at taxpayer expense to ensure the tattoos aren't prejudicial to a jury hearing his trial for murder and attempted murder. The cost to taxpayers is about $150 per day.

John Allen Ditullio wasn't too worried about the prejudicial attitudes his Nazi tattoos would elicit among those he met on the streets, his neighbors, or those who is alleged to have attacked. In fact, several of his most conspicuous tattoos were inked after he was arrested for murder, so the aim of his tattoos was to promote prejudice.

I know that we want to get the right people for this crime, and if Ditullio is innocent we do not want him given the needle because of his ink. I also think that facts are important here, and face painted swastikas would seem to be important in establishing Ditullio's character.

He is who he is.

In the end though I would think that a vast network of neo Nazis would be able to come up with a few bucks to apply makeup to the suspect's face.

h/t Debbie Schlussel

John Cherry: "You don't need a PhD in mathematics to know this is a terrible equation."

Perhaps not John, but a PhD in economics might help straighten out that whole "We are losing one resource -- our talented workforce and the energy of our young people -- and we are giving away another resource, our water, for free," thing.

You see, John, the reason we are losing our talented and energy filled youth is because there are no longer enough jobs or wealth in this state, you know, the one that your political party has been running with an iron fist for the past seven years. (Longer than that if you count powerful union influences and the bottomless money pit of Detroit.)

Private sector jobs will not be sustained or created if there is no profit--businesses, unlike government, cannot operate indefinitely by either borrowing Chinese money or by the arbitrary sponging of additional revenues off of its subjects.

Plain and simple--whenever government gets involved in the process of making it more difficult for businesses to grow profitably, it not only restricts the ability of employers to hire the new college graduates whose educations our taxpayers have heavily subsidized, but it also becomes exceedingly more difficult for businesses to retain the working taxpayers they already have on their employment rolls.

You see, in this system we ultimately need millions of taxpayers to foot the bills, not only for things such as the primary and secondary educations of our children, but also for police and fire protection, the incarceration of dangerous criminals, the filling of potholes, the beautification of city landscapes, the operation of public libraries and fairs, and the assistance that government provides to those who are victims of economic downturns. All of these publicly funded functions of government are only possible because of the fruits provided by taxpayers, and these fruits are greatly restricted when government policy puts the brakes on economic expansion.

Let me put it another way. The water you say that is being given away is not being given away at all. It creates profit and it creates wealth. Taxes are paid on this profit. The wealth that is created is used to fund economic expansion and consumption, each of which also is taxed. Companies that make a profit on this "given away water" employ workers who pay taxes on their paychecks. What is not taken in employment taxes is spent in taxpaying stores, in taxpaying restaurants, in supporting charities (which provide for more efficient end-use), and in maintaining homes. These supported businesses have employees too that do the same with their paychecks. All these employees pay property taxes, sales taxes, and usage fees. They hunt, and fish, and fill their cars with gasoline. Well, at least they do as long as the paychecks keep coming.

What your harebrained idea would amount to, in the long run, is a tightened bear hug on the gasping golden goose your party has been embracing too tightly for too many years. Your flawed dogma maintains that businesses operate solely for the funding of government programs divined by bureaucrats such as yourself, rather than recognizing that businesses operate solely for the production of wealth, the byproducts of which are integral to maintaining a growing and thriving society. Your dogma needs to be updated before it rolls over and dies.

Government is not the horse that pulls the economy along, it is the heavy contents on the back of the carriage. We need to lighten the load Mr. Cherry, not add to it.

Would a PhD in mathematics help you out here, or should I draw a picture?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Granholm Blinked

When Gov. Granholm threatened an additional cut of $127 per student for school funding this year beyond what was agreed to in the 2010 budget process, Republicans accused her of using children as pawns in an effort to force Republicans to pass tax increases.

Republicans, including Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop were perplexed by the Governor's move because they were confident that the painful cuts already put in place would be enough to sustain the system for at least the upcoming school year.

Granholm was undaunted and traveled the state in a publicity blitz designed to apply pressure to Republican lawmakers. Save the children and all that. Many school districts began making plans to cut educational and support staffs based on Granholm's threats.

Now we find that perhaps Granholm was a bit more full of herself (and crap) than she was letting on. So, while schools still go through the process of making the additional cuts, Granholm is backing down on the rhetoric.

Local educators say they'll likely proceed with plans to make millions of dollars in cuts to staff and programs, even though Gov. Jennifer Granholm is holding off on a $127 per-student cut from state aid to school districts.

Area superintendents are encouraged that Granholm says there's more money in state coffers than was projected -- but don't know for sure that the state cuts won't go through later in the year.

"The bottom line is that the Legislature has been irresponsible, and that includes the governor and both parties," Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler said Thursday.

"And if it turns out that the governor was using the K-12 students as pawns, that's just beyond disappointing."
I personally find it difficult to be disappointed in anything this governor does any more.

Waiting On Labor Day

cross posted at Right Michigan

A lot of finger wagging and heady pontification takes place down in Lansing whenever the focus turns to Michigan's public schools. Heated debate is more than understandable too, as there has been little positive news concerning any part of that whole disaster in quite a long time.

As parents have incrementally abdicated their responsibilities to the all-caring bureaucrats of Lansing and Washington (and lets be honest here, our kind overlords have done more than a fair share of wresting responsibilities from parents resistant to this abdication,) test scores have worsened, districts have found it increasingly difficult to keep the buses running, and unions have dug in their heels against reforms integral to correcting problems that affect not only the test scoring, but the finances as well.

These problems are all well documented, and recent events aren't likely to change the headlines.

The largest school district in the state was rocked this week with the results of a national standardized test that placed it dead last among all schools in the nation that took the test. Honestly, that stark assessment does not go nearly far enough. The results recognized the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system as not only the worst performing system on this particular test, but as the worst performing school in the history of the test. These shameful test results, owned by the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, are a monument to failure on an historical scale.

Maybe we can get one of those roadside markers put up.

Ironically, this pox could not come at a better time for Michigan and Detroit, for this is the year that, though it is more destitute than it has ever been in its entire existence, the country is going to divvy up billions of borrowed dollars among those states willing to adopt what educators deem are necessary reforms to improve education.

The DPS, fingers crossed, might very well receive a huge infusion of that federal cash as an ill-deserved reward for its long, well documented, and unprecedented history of abject failure. A shelter wouldn't dare turn away the most destitute of callers in the bleak of night, and with Detroit's tattered appearance these days, it would be shocking if bureaucrats in Washington and Lansing aren't able to direct a hundred mill or so toward Motown for even the appearance of reforms.

Really, nothing gets the attention of Lansing bureaucrats any quicker than the feds flashing a little free cash.

While I find the whole process repugnant for many reasons, I have been particularly lathered over the response of legislators who are, once again, proving that it is money and special interests that they think are most important, and not the children who should be the focus of education.

From M-Live:

The Michigan House is softening a plan that would have allowed schools to start classes before Labor Day.

The state's lowest-performing schools still would have the option of starting classes before Labor Day under revised legislation that soon could come up for a vote on the House floor. But most schools would remain under a 2005 state law that prevents classes from beginning until early September.

House leaders made the switch in their legislation after the state's tourism industry lobbied to keep the post-Labor Day schedule. The later start gives families a chance to extend summer vacations and boost the tourism industry.

The House Education Committee will continue work Wednesday on legislation aimed at winning more federal cash for schools.
One needn't read between the lines very far before one discovers that legislators, to make such a proposal, recognize that it is better for the education of struggling children to start their school years prior to Labor Day (along with all the implications that go with that,) rather than have it begin later in the year and consequently have it drag on into the summer months.

What other possible explanation is there for the poorest performing schools to be allowed to begin earlier in the year (satisfying reformer's wishes,) while forcing more successful districts to begin later in the year, the latter ostensibly to help tourism?

Am I to gather by this that children from more successful school districts can afford to have their education weakened so that campsites stay full an extra long weekend in the summer?

Legislators are trying to butter both sides of their bread with this one. More money from Washington, and more money from tourists. They are willing to reform the bare minimum to keep those Detroit kids in school, but those urchins from Bloomfield Hills might actually rent some Jet Skis!

This is what our enlightened government has done. It has helped to create a disastrous business climate so negative that to help remedy the situation business interests are allowed to negatively impact education. Meanwhile, the educational environment is so choked by ineffective and intrusive governmental policies that to remedy that situation they are allowed to choke business interests though unprecedented debt and taxation.

Education is not forced (some would say allowed) to clean out its own dirty cage without resources being taken from innocent third parties, while businesses are not able (some would say allowed) to thrive on their own without the shackles of grubbing money-leches being attached to their enterprises.

It is a mutated form of modern special interest symbiosis where each party becomes both the weakened host and undernourished parasite of the other. Meanwhile, benevolent bureaucrats can expect to be rewarded at the ballot box for their heart-felt concern.

Me, I'm sickened by the whole process. Until what is best for students actually becomes the focus of the whole education apparatus, it is destined for failure, and until business is allowed to thrive for the profitable purposes for which it is intended, it is destined for continued struggles. Government's nurturing of this impossible intertangling between the two will beget nothing more than increased entanglement.

Thankfully we have experts working on the problem, the resolution of which can wait, it seems, until at least after Labor Day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What "Fixing How Government Funds Itself" Means

I hear a lot about "the way government funds itself" as being broken or sadly out of date. I've even used the term myself because I like to be on the cutting edge of commentary.

What is usually meant by this in reality has little to do with anything other than the amount of funds that are being collected. If revenue streams are growing the funding systems are just fine, thank you very much. If regulation or extreme taxation chokes off a portion of the revenue stream, then obviously another revenue stream must open up.

This is how government funding goes akilter--it is typically the result of government tax legislators chasing around money like we kids of old used to chase mercury around in the palms of our hands. After a while the mercury falls on the floor and Mom yells at you.

When a bureaucrat announces that "the way Michigan funds public schools is broken, and we encourage the Legislature to make it a top priority to fix it," it simply is a more antiseptic way of saying that taxes need to be raised, and it has nothing to do with methods or "the way" of anything.

It simply means, "We want more."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Detroit Makes it to the Top of the List

Who says that Detroit cannot bring home the hardware?

When test results were delivered around the nation to school districts that take part in the standardized National Assessment of Educational Progress, only Detroit merited a visit by Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, to help brief the media prior to the release of the results.

Pretty cool huh, that Detroit Public Schools should deserve the presence of a nationally recognized educator to address the media on the school's latest measurement of academic achievement.

Oh, nuts. Then the results were disclosed.

Detroit Public Schools students posted the worst math results ever recorded in the 40-year history of a prestigious nationwide test, according to scores released today.

Sixty-nine percent of fourth-graders and 77 percent of eighth-graders scored below basic skill levels in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a standardized test that serves as a nationwide yardstick in measuring student learning.

"These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban school districts. "These numbers ... are shocking and appalling and should not be allowed to stand."
So, I guess what I was really meaning to say is that they made the top of a list of schools needing improvement. Maybe that isn't such a shock after all.

Robert Bobb has done a stellar job trying to clean out that rat's nest that is the Detroit Public Schools. He has made great strides in cleaning out a lot of the corruption and in helping aim the district toward a more sound financial future. He has some limitations however as he is still engaged in a fight with the district's school board (who have sued him) over control of the educational process, and he continues to have difficulty getting mass support from the district's labor unions on concessions that would further improve the school's likelihood of future success.

You see, there are still a lot of people in Detroit who have a lot to gain by that sacred cash cow that is the failing DPS. There are salaries to make, payoffs to collect, influences to peddle, and backs to scratch. That kids happen to be lolling about in the hallway learning next to nothing should not stand in the way of educrat prosperity! I mean, really, most of them will drop out before 12th grade anyway, so whats the harm in collecting a little cabbage off a deal that is going to go bad anyway?

I hope that Bobb can get this listing ship aright, but he will have more than just the dysfunctional district to contend with, he will have generations of corrupt progressive attitudes to displace as well. See the blogprof on this.

He will also be fighting against a tide of many social problems for which Detroit is famous, and against which he will have little impact. Too many of Detroit's children grow up without a parent. Too many of them grow up in ramshackle neighborhoods choked with poverty, joblessness, and crime. Too many of them grow up listening to the incessant chants of victimhood and live under its self-fulfilling social constraints. Too many of them have succumbed to the allure of the flashy culture personified by the city's ex-Mayor felon and the begolden Gods of hip hop.

This mess took generations of neglect to create, and it will take nearly as long to correct, though sound and vital improvements can be made in the interim. Let us hope the city has finally hit it's real bottom, because simply being on the bottom of a list does not mean things cannot get worse.

Copenhagen Bombshells and AGW Tactics

Bombshell after bombshell.

What else should we expect from any large and highly politicized homogeneous body meeting ostensibly to further its own dogma and advocacy? Should we be shocked that the news coming out of Copenhagen is shocking!

The first decade of this century is "by far" the warmest since instrumental records began, say the UK Met Office and World Meteorological Organization.

Their analyses also show that 2009 will almost certainly be the fifth warmest in the 160-year record.
Interesting (er...shocking) to say the least.

How else can this esteemed industry redeem itself in the face of the real climate change bombshell of the past few weeks--the one that exposed the CRU as having done everything in its power that it could to systemically ostracize AGW skepticism and skeptics?

What better way is there to to proceed than to simply soldier on while ignoring the conspiratorial evidence as best it can? What better way than to charge onward arguing that the evidence they have is still sound despite the fact that their movement has been exposed as being controlled by lying anal retentive control freaks with an agenda?

So, despite the leaked emails, this is "by far" the warmest decade since instrumental records began. This seems pretty impressive given the 160 year history of instrumental records.

Except for one thing.

As early as public school elementary I was taught that geologic time is a pretty impressive spread. It started before my first birthday, before my parents were born, and even before my grandparents were alive on this Earth. My Grandpa was born in 1884, over 125 years ago. In three short generations my family has spanned nearly as long as instrumental records have been logging temperatures.

My education exposed me to plate tectonics, orbits of distant planets, the time it takes for light to reach the earth from far away suns, and that dinosaurs walked our lands even before Grandpa bought his first sawmill. Diamonds were formed deep within the earth after epochs of extreme heat and pressure. Michigan used to be covered by a shallow sea. The boulders in the woods at the farm were dropped by expansive ice sheets that receded thousands of years ago. There was a time before John Dingell was in the House.

In fact, if my old science books were to be trusted at all, man's total existence on Earth is but a paper thin wafer when compared to geologic time. Why, it was every bit of 2,000,000 years ago that carp first grew legs and became apes, who then became man, thankfully in just the nick of time to invent fossil fuel powered aircraft making it possible to travel to the Copenhagen climate conference.

With serious pronouncements, the recently exposed frauds of global warming want me to freak over 160 years of heating which, in geographic time, must be a very thin sliver of time indeed.
The WMO said global temperatures were 0.44C (0.79F) above the long-term average.

"We've seen above average temperatures in most continents, and only in North America were there conditions that were cooler than average," said WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud.

"We are in a warming trend - we have no doubt about it."
In most places on Earth the idea of AGW is accepted. In America however, there is a growing skepticism as to its merits.

My Mom tried (as I'm sure many other Moms did also) to get me to eat the food on my plate by talking to me about the starving children around the world. They were sad stories and may have even helped once in a while, but I'm afraid my habit of eating was mostly encouraged by my appetite rather than the aches of malnourished children.

I had food while others starved. And now I have cool while others bake under conditions created by evil American consumers and corporations. We need to stop prospering, even if we are cool here in North America, because people are not so cool elsewhere.

Is it more than coincidental that it is North America, the home of most of the world's AGW skeptics, that the climate is actually cooling? Or, more likely, is this a tacit admission by climate operatives that there may be a better way to convince Americans to fall in line; because of the suffering of others? There is no evidence here in North America, and in fact any evidence here is contrary, but elsewhere, beyond our reach where we must rely on the works and understandings of others, things really, really suck.

As a matter of fact, I'm not buying any of it at this point. The AGW community has been thoroughly debunked by its latest scandal that made evident the community's desire to make climate statistics show exactly what they wanted the statistics to show. They fudged evidence, ostracized dissenters, and proclaimed a desire to toss out basis evidence rather than release it to third party evaluators. It is not that there is no proof or disproof of AGW, but that we cannot trust these douchebags to tell us the truth if they have the opportunity.

This morning at WUWT there is a great post on “inhomogeneity” and how temperatures at at least one temperature station in Australia have been seemingly arbitrarily increased over the past few decades to compensate for discontinuities with instrumentation, geography, etc. Oddly, every effort to homogenize the data ended up increasing the temperature.

The Smoking Gun at Darwin:
YIKES! Before getting homogenized, temperatures in Darwin were falling at 0.7 Celcius per century … but after the homogenization, they were warming at 1.2 Celcius per century. And the adjustment that they made was over two degrees per century … when those guys “adjust”, they don’t mess around. And the adjustment is an odd shape, with the adjustment first going stepwise, then climbing roughly to stop at 2.4C.
So, the data in North America shows a cooling trend, but elsewhere, things are heating up! That is until someone looks closely at the data supplied.

I tell my kids that liars do not have to lie all the time to be untrusted. If they even lie one time in ten it means that nothing they say can be trusted. This is where I'm intellectually and emotionally at in regards to the AGW experts that are meeting this week.

They can say what they want, and they can make their statements on the need of immediate action and impending doom and gloom--I'm not trusting the information until it is evaluated by people whom I trust.

Which is exactly the response that AGW advocates have earned, regardless of how hungry the kids are in Copenhagen.

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Guess is None

It wasn't too many years ago when Republicans adopted the "me too" attitude and supported minimum wage hikes. These hikes flew in the face of sound economics and were guaranteed to help raise the unemployment rates of teenagers and other entry level employment seekers while at the same time making Michigan's labor force more costly than competing labor forces of surrounding states.

But, minimum wage hikes had already won the debate in the main stream media, so these self-loathing Republicans decided it was easier to adopt a poor and damaging policy rather than fight the debate on its merits. I am not dumb enough to say that Michigan's economic doldrums are entirely the fault of a minimum wage hike, but it would be dumb to say that this hike has had nothing to do with Michigan's astronomical unemployment rate overall, and on Michigan's higher than astronomical unemployment rate among teens.

Still, Republicans got what they wanted, the winning side of a losing policy that helped smudge the founding purpose of a common sense party. Principle was allowed to lapse for the purpose of embracing a populist position.

Well, now they are at it again, this time in support of a smoking ban that will firmly plant the state government's huge nose in a private area where it does not belong; into the realm of individuals who wish to allow patrons to smoke within their own private businesses, and into the personal lives of people who wish to visit businesses in which they are allowed to smoke.

A Senate Republican leader says he believes he has the votes to pass a workplace smoking ban with exceptions for the Detroit casinos, cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, said the Senate is scheduled to take up the smoking prohibition measure this week, and he will propose an amendment that allows smoking on the floor of the three city gaming halls and in smoking specialty shops.

"Yes, I think we can get the votes," Jelinek said on Detroit talk radio, adding he's been told the legislation will be acceptable to the House.

House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, told The Detroit News on Friday that approving the smoking ban bill is one of top three items on his agenda before the Legislature adjourns Dec. 17 for its holiday recess.
Ron Jelinek probably means well as he tosses individual rights into a pit, but the platform on which he is standing is one that would get his butt kicked if he had the misfortune of facing one of the Founding Fathers down on Main Street.

But what else should we expect? People these days are very quick to support measures that impact the lives of others. We want others people to pay more of their wages in taxes. We want them to help educate our kids and to fix potholes. We want them to stop using incandescent light bulbs and to buy high efficiency windows. We want them to get better gas mileage, travel at the posted limit, to wear seat belts, and if we drive off a cliff in a speeding gas guzzler without our seat belt on, we want them to pay for the hospital bill too.

If Republicans can no longer be trusted to stand correctly on issues of individual liberty, what issues can they be trusted to stand on? My guess is none.

Bad Cop, Worse Cop

John Francois Heinz-Kerry (D-Marriage Windfall) is warning Congressional leaders that if they do not take up climate change legislation very soon that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have to act on its own and, as everyone knows, the EPA is a "blunt instrument" that would make it even tougher on industry than would the benevolent overlords of Congress. Heinz-Kerry loves industry and would hate to see anything happen to it.

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people's health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary.
All of this is, of course, timed to coincide with the butt-cheek clenched global bureaucracy meetings that began today in Copenhagen. The goals of the climate change gathering of world socialists is to get countries to agree to goals on the limiting of emissions of green house gasses and to provide a framework in which dynamic world economies will provide global welfare to countries that have a long history of choosing tyrants and butt-cheek clenching socialists as their leaders.

Heinz-Kerry says that if we don't let him and his control freak brethren set limits on how our houses are heated and insulated, how our cars are fueled and how fast they drive, and on how our our electricity is produced and how our appliances use the electricity, that the EPA is going to be even worse than Congress!

Watts Up With That has more.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What Kind of a Business?

I found this interesting in today's Detroit News:

The union is asking its members to ratify a pact that includes teacher evaluations for the first time and a school-based bonus system to get incentives for improved educator performance.
What kind of a business could you hope to run if a majority of its employees were never evaluated and if outstanding performance could not be rewarded any more lucratively than the worst performing apple in the barrel?

My guess is that it would be the kind of business that failed to produce a product meeting the most basic quality control standards about 75% of the time, and would meet those miserable production levels while going millions of dollars farther in debt every year.

Teachers unions are worried about due process. Where is this protection for the thousands of children every year who are failed by the Detroit Public School System? Somewhere along the line school in Detroit became about instructors and not about students.

We might be lucky things are only as as bad as they are and not worse.

Friday, December 04, 2009


I couldn't tell you for sure, but whatever is causing this headache is starting to get to me.

If I blog today it will take place much later, and it will be of an even lower quality than normal. You think I'm going to suffer alone?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Who Could Have Possibly Predicted This?

Vladimir Putin is considering a run for Russian President in 2012.

Acorns, Squirrels, and the Nuts in Lansing

cross posted at Right Michigan

I don't much like squirrels. They look too much like rats to me and rats, frankly, even bushy tailed ones, creep me right out. I know people that hunt squirrels during small game season that would happily make a meal out of their little rat-like legs. The day one of you yahoos ever tries to force feed me rat legs for dinner is the day you better start arsenic testing your drinking water.

So, I didn't really lament the squirrel's life that was lost a couple months ago one afternoon as I drove home from town, accidentally squishing the creepy little rodent underneath my driver's side front tire. For the record, I will lightly brake for squirrels but draw the line at swerving. It isn't that I celebrated the little guy's death because I generally like animals, but this little fella didn't give himself much of a chance.

If a bullet has ever had the name of a victim scrawled across its brassy casing, this squirrel's Latin surname was marked on my tire, for this was a squirrel destined to die on that day. He darted across the road in front of me, got nearly off the road on the opposite side, panicked, backtracked, got nearly to safety again this time on my side of the road, and then backtracked one last fateful time before terminally meeting my Michelin near the center line. Having never owned a squirrel and having never spent a lot of time studying them in the wild, I'm just going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this one wasn't the valedictorian of his senior class.

We have all seen animals do this sort of thing countless times without ever revealing so much as a hint of motivation. With all apologies to Nike, they just do it.

Humans, outside of teens at the mall, rarely engage in such erratic behavior without some sort of motivation. For Michigan legislators currently considering a backtrack on education policy, the motivation is purely, and simply, about the largest pile of money.

Back in 2005, the Michigan state legislature decided that local school districts were no longer capable of setting their own school year calendars. (This really wasn't surprising because distant legislators and policy makers had already been overruling local districts for a very long time on issues that they felt the locals were incapable of deciding themselves.) If districts were forced to stay closed until after the Labor Day holiday, so thought legislators, the tourism industry would greatly benefit, and the added business (and the resultant taxes) would be a huge boon to the economy (and to public coffers.) That this change was not to the liking of some districts was too bad. Policy makers--especially those in need of a currency fix--had decided what would be good for the many, and the few had simply better suck it up and follow along.

Think about it. Policy makers and advocates have a lot more to consider than parents, teachers, administrators, and school boards do. Parents just have their kids, teachers but a classroom, and administrators but a district. But legislators and advocates. . .they have the CHILDREN!

There is the child's self esteem to consider, his proper diet, a free before-school breakfast, his physical exercise, his embrace of cultural equality, and his acceptance of the global green economy and climate change. He must possess a healthy dose of imperialist guilt, have a willingness to work in a team setting (even if other team members do nothing but screw off,) know how to apply a condom, embrace the collective, learn that communism wouldn't have been as bad had it been tried in a more industrialized country, and must have a keen understanding of his country's founding based on Judeo-Christian principles. Hmmmm, maybe not that very last part. And, let me tell you, this sort of intervention doesn't come on the cheap.

How could bureaucrats ever trust parents to do an adequate job of teaching their children these things?

As if to emphasize the fact, during the same year that Michigan legislators were telling parents and local school boards that their opinions mattered not one whit on something as simple as a school calendar, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued this statement in a ruling concerning parental rights in the education of children in California.

"While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child."
Since 2005, as the rolls of children in private and home schools have predictably swelled, Michigan's public school children have been entering school after Labor Day ostensibly so that they can spend the first two weeks of summer drifting off to sleep in class while dreaming about being outside in the June sun. Well, that and bigger pastie sales during the first week of September.

Unfortunately for Michigan's state-owned school children, the additional Labor Day tax revenues have not been nearly enough to steer Michigan out of the economic doldrums, and another solution (along with many more dollars) are needed to thwart insolvency. Fortunately, we might have found us a stop-gap Sugar Daddy.

From MLive and the AP:
Michigan's efforts to win more federal cash for schools could result in changes that would cause some angst beyond education circles.

Among them is a proposal that would eliminate the requirement that Michigan schools wait to start classes until after Labor Day. It's one of several changes proposed in legislation that supporters say would give Michigan a shot at winning up to $400 million in the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition.


Some lawmakers say eliminating that requirement may improve the state's chances of securing more federal cash for schools. Rep. Tim Melton, an Auburn Hills Democrat who sponsors key Race to the Top-oriented legislation, says the provision is intended to meet the federal program's goals of providing schools flexibility to boost time spent on instruction.

"It's a provision that we believe, in Race to the Top, makes us more competitive," Melton said.
Funny, isn't it, how much more attractive a policy or idea becomes when the adoption of it might result in distant bureaucrats dumping suitcases full of borrowed Chinese money on the threshold of Michigan's Department of Education. I mean, extra Labor Day business is great, but this is wads of freshly printed free federal money! It is a tough choice, really, having to decide between scrapping a plan that completely discounts the desires of most local school districts, and a plan that might make Michigan eligible for a slice of delicious Obama bail-out pie (while also potentially ceding control of school districts another thousand miles farther away from where it belongs.) Hey, if the EU would pony up some cold cash I'm sure we'd have many overlords willing to let Brussels arrange our school calendars.

From the evidence provided we can clearly discern the established preferential hierarchy of education policy makers in Lansing.

  1. The education policy makers themselves
  2. Feds with boatloads of cash earmarked directly for government education coffers
  3. Business lobbies who like busy holiday weekends (and taverns that have Lotto)
  4. School Districts that have to adapt to it all on the money they are allowed to have
  5. Parents and other citizens who have been pretty much booted out of the whole process (other than those pesky tax contributions)
  6. Public school children who will learn exactly what socially driven policy advocates feel is important for them to learn, at least as long as the money holds out and parents don't butt in
It is difficult to predict with any certainty what is going to become of public education in Michigan. Our funding structure for education is badly ill conceived, but at this point simply rearranging revenue streams is not going to tackle the problem. This is because progressive policy makers have literally choked this state of its ability to create widespread wealth, and they have done so with such dismissive zeal and ignorance that they still do not realize the fruits of their effort. Without expanding wealth creation there cannot be significant increases in tax revenues, but they continue to come back demanding more.

So, where will the money come from? The feds cannot borrow into perpetuity because either the Chinese will balk at our gluttony, or inflation will hammer the dollar into oblivion (and you thought $4.30 a gallon gasoline was bad.) Not only can the state not finance its endeavors on borrowed money, its legislators have already sucked every discretionary dollar possible out of Michigan's shriveled economy, and in doing so they have reached that magical point of giddy irresponsibility where squeezing $1 more out of the economy will drive more than $1's worth of wealth beyond the state's borders.

The solution to this problem lies in returning control of schools back to the local level and entrusting parents and voters with making the best decisions for their own children and communities. This may prove to be a pill too large for bureaucrats to swallow. After all, they didn't get the power they have today just so they could throw it away on a bunch of blue collar country bumpkins.

They would rather busy themselves with scurrying back and forth like carefree rodents between the largest piles of donated acorns while never considering the fact that acorns don't just pile themselves--they have to come from somewhere.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Russia Train Attack Was Islamist After All

...or at least according to the claims of the Caucasian Mujahadeen, a separatist movement in Russian Chechnia.

Before this disclosure, many sensitive international media and government sources were uncertain as to what possible motivation could be behind blasts designed to kill and maim innocent victims.

Now, finally, we know.

[Edited because I cannot spell]

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Defending Christmas Against Silliness

I was bemused a while back when I noticed on a friend's window screens a small warning label. I cannot remember the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of "warning: this window screen is not designed to protect children from falling."

Is society populated with people who would think a high window sill is a great location on which to store a toddler for any amount of time? If parents are so stupid as to believe a thin window screen is designed to protect a toddler, are said parents smart enough to be able to read a warning notice to begin with?

When I mentioned this to someone, I was told in response that she had noticed a warning label on her toothpaste that cautioned:

Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical attention or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
I suppose swallowing the toothpaste on purpose would negate the reason for a call.

I know, companies feel they have to include these warnings to keep ambulance chasing lawyers like Sam Bernstein and John Edwards from filing a lawsuit and running them out of business. So, this says more about trial lawyers and a ridiculous tort environment than it does about companies who are forced into performing gaudy legal contortions.

Still, there is something silly about organizations who voluntarily force themselves into legal shoe boxes for the purpose of protecting any and all people from any and all potential circumstances.

The latest example comes to us from the Times Online (via Overlawyered) where an antiseptic Christmas tree has been installed to protect shoppers from as many conceivable Christmas tree injuries as possible. That the silly creation looks like a green pile of tapered walk-off mats is of little importance.

The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009.

Thus it has no trunk so it won’t blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone’s head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top.
At least when atheists try to kill the spirit of Christmas they do it from a malevolent stance that is easily visible.

What exactly is the Yuletide defense against abject silliness?

Do It For the Bandwidth (Or Why I think Netflix Sucks)

I have a Malwarebytes installed, AVG pop up blocker, the Firefox browser pop up blocker active, and also run Spybot on a weekly basis.

I do not like pop ups.

People, this is rural northern Michigan where dial-up is the norm, and when humming along at about 44 bps on a good connection I don't want to see the bandwidth I've purchased hijacked by jackasses who want me to accidentally click on their uninvited panderings.

This is why I will never, ever, ever, ever get a Netflix subscription. Those sociopathic solicitors have got to be the largest pop up purveyors on the tubes and it pisses me off. If I want a Netflix subscription I know how to get to their website, and I don't need to be reminded of it every day or so.

Now, since I don't subscribe to Netflix there isn't much I can do about this. Maybe those of you with subscriptions can tell them to knock it off or you will cancel your services.

Do it for the bandwidth (if not the children!)

America Under Attack

What will become of America when Americans en masse begin to believe that government subsidies are an accepted parcel of American life? Some would argue that we are already there.

I believe that the health care bills currently being discussed would, if adopted, push us over the edge, for there is a sinister component to them that will create a relentless attack at the heart of an American principle on which this country was founded, and one that was stressed to me while I was growing up.

My parents were never rich, were never college educated, and were never the type of people that lived high on the hog. I would guess we would have been considered middle class by most measurements, though to reach that lofty stratus of livelihood my Dad worked six days a week most of the year, rarely took vacations, and had two jobs. He would still be working today at age 90 if his eyesight hadn't worsened to the point that he can no longer read or drive. My Mom worked in a hardware store from the time her youngest daughter (a whiner and an incessant crybaby if my childhood recollections are correct) entered Kindergarten, until she was well into her 70s.

This hard work and a strong dedication to family made my parents, according to some social engineers, members of a privileged class. This is hogwash of course, for we were never privileged beyond the point that my parents worked. My Dad worked as a farmer, a truck driver, a delivery man, a bus driver, a piano tuner, and a giver of unsolicited advice to his children. During my Mother's professional career she could have called herself a maid, a cook, a clerk, and an uncompensated giver of unsolicited advice to her children.

My parents never smoked, drank, went on strike, did drugs, owned a weekend home, went on elaborate vacations, or lived beyond their means. They never divorced, and, except for my younger sister whom I told she was adopted at the zoo, all of their children were born within wedlock. To my knowledge, other than the sporty Ford my Mom drives these days, they never owned a new vehicle in their adult lives, unless, of course, you consider being "new to them" really new. I admit it, my parents drove mostly crap cars during their adult lives, a family tradition I have been proud to carry on.

These are not the lives of the privileged, but rather the lives of the self-sufficient; people who did what they had to to get along while asking for no handouts from the government. America can survive, and has survived, because of people like my parents; people of wise disposition who live within their means and provide for themselves.

My parents do not understand how a country can continue to exist when it plans to spend trillions of dollars more than it has in the bank. They never could have done this in their home. They are not keen either on the idea of their country providing to people what they should provide, and can provide, on their own. This was not how they lived their lives.

Understand too that we are not talking about cold hearted brutes. They gave to charity, they gave to the church, and they even gave money to the GOP back in the day when Ronald Reagan managed to turn Americanism into something that Americans could be proud of. They taught me, in turn, that being self-sufficient means more than cutting the rope between myself and a dependence on government, it also means supporting others in need.

It is a tragedy that the current health care bills being discussed will force millions upon millions of people to enlist into a life of dependence on government for no other reason than bureaucrats want to control the process, and because of their enlistment, an integral portion of the American Experience will be expunged from the psyche of Americans.

Make no mistake, self-reliance is under attack, and therefore Americanism is under attack, for the two concepts are inseparable.