Sunday, January 31, 2010

How About a Third Option?

The headline reads, "Gov. Granholm: Bad timing or lousy luck?"

As if there could not be any one of a number of third potential options...that of incompetence, poor decision making, failed socialism, poor management, ignorance of economic principles, bad appointments, dabbling in the private sector, union-worship, tax policy, tighter regulation, etc.

I don't for a second blame our lovely governor for all the problems of Michigan as many of the negative economic consequences we suffer from today would be beyond the control of any simple minded Canadian/Californian socialist, not just ours.

Yet, the governor's office has had many years to use her influence to help pull in the reins on spending, to restructure the tax system, and to allow our state to become one more friendly to employers, consumers, and taxpayers. Rather than do any of those things, she decided to use her vast resources to force Michigan into what she could consider a blessed green economy and allowed regulations to further restrict our once free market and to drive countless businesses and jobs out of state.

So, what is it, bad timing or lousy luck? Perhaps the grossly incompetent make their own luck.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another One of Those Annoying "When I Was a Kid" Posts

Before any recess or heading for the bus on a wintry school day, the classrooms and hallways of my elementary school were filled with winter boots.

They were not the sleek and stylish kind of today that are warm and water proof. No, these were the kind with shoddy metal buckles that, after clasping properly for a month or so, would partially tear free from the boot leaving a hole where the buckle had been attached.

This type of boot was perhaps the most common and was an item designed to do nothing more than keep a foot warm and dry. Yet, when a hole appeared and when the sole purpose of the product was lost, we didn't get brand new boots to replace the old ones. Ingenious mothers knew how to get a full winter out of a pair of buckleless boots--the bread wrapper.

When I was a kid in elementary, nearly every other kid getting ready for a jaunt outside the building had his foot inside of a sock that was inside of a plastic bread wrapper that was inside of a boot. Lumberjack and Wonder were in style! I suppose it was too commonplace to be embarrassing--it is just the way that it was.

I don't think that the bakers of those days intended their bread wrappers to serve as foot liners inside mildewy boots. If they had loaves might have taken on a more foot like shape and the plastic itself might have been slightly thickened at the heel and toe. Concerned mothers might have purchased bread not for its softness or flavor, but rather for the wrapper's seam strength and toe-room.

That was the 60s.

In an educational conversation I had with my own ingenious Mother the other day, the discussion turned to even older days when nearly every mother sewed, spent hours ironing well starched clothes, and reused cereal packaging to wrap sandwiches.

One shocking component of Americana that I had never been made aware of before was the "feed sack dress."

When it was first mentioned I had this mortifying image of stylish teen girls strutting their stuff inside a burlap wrap. I wondered immediately if unfortunate (and dateless) girls spent a lot of time scratching themselves.

I was assured that all the girls wore them back in the day and that the feed sacks, unlike my childhood's bread wrappers, were manufactured precisely so that they could be used to make dresses, quilts, and (hopefully for all little boys everywhere) not trousers.

Prints, stripes, and bold colors dominated the feed sack market of yesteryear so that their recycled forms could become the sleeves and pleats of a generation. We are a disposable society today, and honestly, on many levels it is difficult for me to feel any real guilt over it.

We live in an entirely different world than that of only a few decades ago, and most of these changes have been good. We have boots that stay dry and warm on the inside and thankfully my daughter will depend on neither the feed store nor my sewing skills for her prom dress.

When my children are in their fifties I might let them in on the bread wrapper story. Their gasps will portend visions of disadvantaged ruralites with freezing feet at the mercy of a nasty Michigan winter.

I sincerely hope that when my kids finally reach my advancing age that they will remember the times of their yesteryears; times when their iPods had only 8 gigs and what was called television was but two-dimensional.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Business is Business

cross posted at Right Michigan

"It's not personal, it's business."

That is not an unfamiliar phrase to anyone who has spent much time around the television or the conference room. It was how, for instance, Tony Soprano could show genuine remorse for the death of someone that he just had whacked.

It was how Ford Motor Company, getting the jump on its domestic competitors, could axe thousands of workers from the payroll in anticipation of even rougher waters ahead.

It is why manufacturers are wont to shut down factories that employ familiar faces so that they can outsource their production to more exotic locales such as Indiana and Alabama.

There is always a time for emotion, but it is best left expressed until after the pink slips have been passed out and the "for sale" sign has been posted on the front door. This is not because emotions are bad or unnecessary, but because viable businesses have to survive profitably. If they lose their ability to make a profit they lose their ability to survive--and emotions can get in the way of that ever existing truth.

Business is business.

One needs only skim the "Economic Recovery Report" mailed to many voters in Bart Stupak's district to discover why an emotions driven economy has one foot in a financial grave. The report contains quite a bit of feel-good information that Mr. Stupak wants his constituents to celebrate with him.

It is not possible to give every item contained within the report its proper attention. I will briefly talk about three.

First, the report lauds the creation or retainment of 1,950 jobs in Michigan's 1st district and the $461 million dollars earmarked for his area. This is an investment of $236,400 per job saved or retained. (I'm rounding down.)

Now, I know that construction projects requiring asphalt, steel, and equipment are going to come with higher price tags than jobs that require a fancy name tag and a clipboard. Yet, nearly one third of the jobs (610) "created or retained" were retained in K-12 schools in Michigan. I know one of these retained workers and she took no asphalt with her into the classroom. To make matters worse, her job as funded by the stimulus, will cease to exist at the end of the school year.

I wonder if Mr. Stupak will be issuing an updated report with only 1,949 saved or retained jobs once the school year ends.

The fact of the matter is, the stimulus package was promoted as a means to create jobs and it wasn't until well after the stimulus bill was passed that we began to hear the magic modifiers "saved" or "retained" added to the sales pitch.

As the process unfolded, a saved job became every bit as important as a created job. Emotionally this may very well be acceptable, but from the standpoint of economic growth or its stimulating effect, it is mere obfuscation.

Growth is growth and stimulus is stimulus. The retaining of a job is not growth, the retaining of a short term job is less than growth, and the borrowing of money to retain a temporary job is an all-liquid diet.

When it comes to claiming created jobs even beyond those only saved, Bart Stupak is no slouch either. The largest benefactor indicated (outside of public schools) is in Alpena where 210 jobs will be created with the building and operation of American Process Inc.'s new biofuels and bioproducts plant. (Industry reports say the project itself will create 10 new jobs while 160 spin off jobs might result.) The government's ante for the project is $18 million or, $1.8 million per directly created job.

Here we see a prime example of a benevolent government becoming directly involved in private industry. It is entering into a commercial market where private companies see the potential results as not worth the investment of their own money. If private companies are not willing to spend their own money on what they deem is an unworthy investment, why should emotional bureaucrats spend borrowed money to keep the ball rolling?

We need to look no farther than the corn ethanol industry to see the sad results this sort of venture can create. Because of well-intentioned bureaucrats with wallets stuffed with money borrowed from the Chinese, we have created an industry that arguably uses more energy than it creates, needs strict tariffs and subsidies to stay afloat, uses 1,700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of a fuel that is fifteen percent less efficient than gasoline, and helps to starve countless people each year.

Would it have been so wrong so wrong yesterday to expect corporations like Archer Daniels Midland to stick its own neck out on corn ethanol? Is it wrong today to think that American Process should put its own money on the line? At a time when people need jobs and the planet needs saving, who can seriously be bothered to answer such questions?

The report also mentioned that 21 jobs would be created or retained by

"the Alcona Health Center for an Increased Demand for Services program to retrain staff who were in danger of losing their positions due to implementation of electronic medical records."
Any business trying to maintain a profit has to look for opportunities to add efficiencies to the operation. There are many ways to do this including mergers in the marketplace, better trained personnel, and new equipment. In a textbook example of how a private business must work to stay afloat, the Alcona Health Center has implemented a new system that is providing it with the opportunity to work more efficiently.

I have no doubt that the Alcona Health Center is a business worthy of patronage and a fine provider of medical care to a broad range of clients. Yet, after the Center takes the initiative to provide itself with an added efficiency, why should it be destitute taxpayers who have to cough up the extra cash to retrain displaced workers for other in-house jobs, especially when the necessary cash should have been made available by the added efficiency?

By any objective measurement, the economic stimulus plan has been worse than ineffective, it has been damaging. By just glancing at a few of the best examples provided by one of its greatest supporters, the numbers are easy to dismantle and the claimed benefits are just as easy to refute.

Our governments must begin to tackle our economic problems logically. We can no longer afford to deal with daunting economic difficulties by churning out short term emotional fixes.

Otherwise we all get whacked.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pure Michigan To Expand


A taxpayer funded advertising campaign originally created to attract tourists to our fair state is now going to be expanded to attract permanent residents to Michigan.

Michigan has a lot to offer, that is, if you don't count a lack of jobs, a business environment unlikely to create them, and a population of such low self esteem that it intentionally elected Jennifer Granholm as its governor...twice.

Michigan is having a difficult time hanging on to the residents it already has. It has difficulty employing them, keeping them safe, or educating their children. It habitually raises their taxes and provides them with fewer services for those ever higher taxes.

Why wouldn't the vibrant family of today want to move here?

Pure Michigan is an award winning campaign that purposefully does not advertise Michigan at its purest--a state anchored to an industry it helped to choke yesterday, but fully content to wait on the jobs of tomorrow.

Underestimating the Plebs

Ah, the patronization.

Middle America, at least that portion that I am familiar with, does not like condescension. A vast majority of us are not rocket scientists or experts in biochemistry, yet we are still able to converse with semi-intelligence about many things.

Symbolism is not lost on us. We can detect when we are being treated as honest listeners. We can tell when we are being gently persuaded. But mostly, we can tell when we are being treated like dummies.

The current occupier of the White House and his enlightened staff of hopeless socialists want me to believe that they are concerned about education. They want me to believe that the administration is committed to raising test scores and getting future generations of children to be deeper thinkers, future leaders, yada, yada, yada.

How best to do this?

Obviously, by giving a symbolic talk in a childless classroom with sleek teleprompters staged on either side of the presidential podium like ventilators in an ICU ward for the verbally terminal.

Maybe they are on to something. Looking at that picture dropped my IQ by at least two points.

A salute to AJ Strata who asks, "I wonder why he did not add the Roman columns??"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today in the Jihad

Four items on the jihad front today.

First, from Michelle Malkin. It is becoming more and more obvious what the terror trials in New York will look like, even beyond the $100 million price tag. Jihadists who are granted the rights of US civilians will use these undeserved privileges to further the cause and misinformation of jihad.

How do we know?

Well, a good place to start would be to check in on the trial of Aafia Siddiqui now taking place in, you guessed it, New York City. It ain't pretty.

Second, from Jihad Watch, is it really difficult to figure out why we are having a hard time dealing with the problem of terrorism when officials within the departments created to protect us from Islamic violence refuse to even acknowledge a link between Islam and blowing things up?

Detectives later searched Woodson’s room at the Red Mill Inn on Route 22 and found weapons including a .308-caliber semi-automatic assault rifle with a defaced serial number, a grenade launcher, hundreds .50-caliber and .308-caliber rounds, a police scanner, and the maps of a U.S. military installation and an out-of-state civilian community, Forrest said. Woodson, who is a Navy veteran, had been staying at the hotel since last week.

Investigators also found Middle Eastern red and white traditional headdress, Forrest said.
How long did it take before officials were willing to call the Fort Hood massacre an act of Islamic terrorism? And that particular purveyor of Islam shouted "Allah Akbar" when emptying his weapons into the bodies of innocents.

Items three and four are the pedestrian killings of Muslims in the Mideast. By the way, Muslims are by far the most frequent victims of jihadist violence.

Oh well, one man's terrorism is but another man's proselytizing.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dumb As a Box of Rocks

That would describe my assessment of establishment Republicans headed to a posh Waikiki hotel this week to discuss upcoming political strategy.

There are apparently no convention halls or two star hotels available in America's midlands. There are no foam swept beaches on the Gulf Coast. There ain't a cash bar anywhere here in Michigan.

When it comes to schmoozing and knocking back a couple of highballs, nothing will suffice like an exclusive tropical resort hotel, especially when the loudest buzz surrounding the event will concern the election of Scott Brown. There will be the clanking of many glasses to toasts of "We won!" and "We're back!"

Establishment Republicans are misreading, of course, the events in Massachusetts and the palpable disgust with our rulers in Washington these days. The people are running from debt and extravagance and from the opaqueness of government. The voters are long tired of lies, obfuscation, and politicians that would sell their souls for another win at the ballot box.

I know that this sojourn to Hawaii is primarily for work. I know that it was planned prior to Brown's election. I know too that a national party has to spread its interest to all fifty states. Yet, there is something that peals of tone deafness with this working escape to the beaches of Oahu.

Will the GOP get its best bang for the buck in Honolulu? Will there be lavishness slathered upon attendees while the country faces a financial crisis? Will even the wholly imagined image of GOP strategists sunning themselves on the beaches (while former taxpayers hit the unemployment office) provide the example that indicates to voters that the party of Bush even cares to understand the messages delivered by the voters of 2008 and 2009?

It appears as if the voters in Virginia and New Jersey and Massachusetts have only started to scratch the surface of the ignorant coating that wraps our oblivious politicians. It is going to take many more elections to get the message to penetrate into their thick hammer-like skulls.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nearing the End of the Tunnel

Today the braces come off.

Not that the daughter is excited or anything, but she hasn't seen any teeth in her smile for over two and a half years.

In celebration we will be stopping by Elderly's to look at some guitars and hopefully picking up my son (the MSU student) for a quick bite to eat if schedules allow.

Any blogging done today will be late and just as unimportant as normal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trijicon Makes the Prudent Decision

I would never suggest that Trijicon invite its own insolvency by telling world armies to go elsewhere to purchase rifle scopes. I simply feel it is too bad that it cannot.

It would be very interesting to witness just how far world armies would go to rid themselves of all Christian references in pursuit of Muslim and atheist appeasement. The Fort Hood massacre was indicative of at least a tepid willingness by some within its ranks to put military personnel in danger for the purpose of political correctness and cultural appeasement.

Would the armed forces of the US put an inferior product in the hands of its military personnel in order to avoid angering Muslims; a religion that should be noted has many adherents screaming "Aluha akbar" as they blow themselves up among civilians and gun down unarmed Fort Hood personnel. Would New Zealand?

This is financially the most prudent decision Trijinic could have made. Everyone knows that it had to make it, and everyone knows too that it was going to make it.

It is not, however, the most interesting decision that could have been made.

My guess is that there is more than a few higher ups today thankfully wiping their brows.

AGW Tackles the Reasonable People

cross posted at Right Michigan

Danny Glover drew the befuddled stares of millions last week as he claimed global warming caused the Haiti earthquake. Similar claims were made by others about hurricanes Katrina and Rita, rising waters in the south Pacific, wildfires in California, historic blizzards in Europe, and glacial melt at Kilimanjaro.

The only disastrous thing to occur in the past few years that was not blamed on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was the solid defeat of the thoroughly inept Senatorial candidate Martha Coakley by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. That was, of course, George Bush's fault.

UN experts have themselves intimated that global warming has and will cause women in third world countries to enter the sex trade. It will kill the polar bear, increase hay fever, cause the earth to spin faster, generate child insomnia, and topple the gingerbread houses of Sweden.

If you have a problem, believe me, they can find a cause.

More thoughtful AGW theorists would like us to take a step back and ignore the hysteria. They would like us to disregard Danny Glover and that powerful blowhard Al Gore who himself lives in a castle with roughly the same carbon footprint as that of Liechtenstein.

No, they have more subtle tactics--ones designed to work on reasonable people like me.

These are just two that happen to be promoted by Gary Ridley of The Oscoda County Herald.

While I don’t think that climate change believers in the government, business and scientific sectors have been completely forthright in stating the realities of global climate change, it is utterly ridiculous to believe that global climate change does not exist simply because it’s cold outside.

It’s January in Northern Michigan; of course it’s cold outside!
Cold Michiganders should instead look overseas and identify with overheated Australians. Meanwhile, the summer snows in Australia should be ignored by Aussies who should look north to Asia where news stories stress perspiring Russians. Russians in turn should look beyond their freezing toes and concentrate on overheated Americans who are oddly worried about unprecedented loss in the citrus crop.

It is a reasonable sounding game of international climate tag in which everyone is denied the opportunity to be 'it.'

He continues...
If those who are trying to raise awareness of climate change want to try to successfully evoke change within this country they need to tell Americans how climate change will affect the thing they hold most dear — their wallets.

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007 put the net economic cost of climate change at an average of $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide released.


The EPA listed the average single-person household to have a CO2 output of 20,750 pounds annually, and a family of four’s output at 83,000 pounds.

According to the IPCC, that would put those households at a yearly environmental damage monetary equivalent of $112.94 and $451.80 respectively.

If global climate change activists tried to tax households based on these figures in order to combat climate change, I am sure Americans would start to pay much more attention to the realities behind climate change. [emphasis mine]
Um, tried?

What was Kyoto about if not an attempt to force wealthy nations to ante up funds to those nations who are ruled by tinpot dictators and religious strongmen? What was Copenhagen other than a brazen attempt to confiscate billions from wealthy western nations to bolster the choked economies of poverty stricken curruptocracies?


Have CAFE standards come without a cost? Have not automobile companies and suppliers been struggling at least in part because of energy and economic policies designed to reduce man's impact on climate? Are Michigan utility rates not going up because our state's largest energy providers have been granted sweetheart deals to, get this, perhaps provide more green energy in the future? Will the next major hurricane in the gulf not result in a spike in gasoline prices?

I think that most Americans and particularly Michiganders have analyzed the way in which AGW proponents have already affected our wallets. Cap and trade legislation promises to put the screws to us even beyond what we have already suffered. It will be resisted with greater fervor than is health care legislation.

Most Americans and Michiganders do not want to further surrender freedom and wealth to global minded bureaucrats who are intent on producing positive economic outcomes in countries mired in various manifestations of socialism and fascism.

We are being told by global warming advocates to trade in our clunkers, light fewer campfires, eat only local fruits, turn down the thermostats, buy high efficiency windows, cease fertilizing, and please, knock it off with those high intensity disco lights!

America chose the free market system and because of this has succeeded in generating more than enough wealth to clean up its own environment. Our standard of living is high, our air is clean, and our kids have food. Third world nations, on the the other hand, chose every possible form of socialism, tyranny, despotism, and corruptedness, and have ergo lagged significantly behind us in every measurable factor of life quality.

The international money grab is not, as Ridley intimates, a launch into the hypothetical, for we, as consumers and tax payers, are already being blasted with higher costs for the implausible cause of preventing higher temperatures on planet Earth.

Nonetheless, I will take some of the advice offered.

In the future I will gladly ignore whatever drivel flecks the microphones positioned in front of the esteemed Nobel laureate Albert William Gore, and honestly, I've mostly laughed at Danny Glover for the last two decades anyway.

I will not, however, ignore my slippery pathway or my icy drive. Just because its hotter than blue blazes in Siberia doesn't mean that I cannot crack my skull on my ice covered steps wearing circa '78 vinyl platform dancing shoes.

Moonwalking is difficult in any climate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time to Start Listening

Several thoughts on the Scott Brown victory last night over one of the most inept campaigners in the history of campaigning.

First of all, after watching some post-election group interview sessions conducted by Frank Luntz with Massachusetts voters, I am not necessarily convinced that this victory is in toto a referendum on Barack Obama. I was surprised by this. The assembled group of voters (most of whom voted for Barack Obama in 2008) still seemed to be mildly supportive of Obama's presidency, even if they are disappointed in the results to date. "He needs more time" or "he inherited a rough situation" would serve as a common viewpoint from the group.

That is not the same thing as Martha Coakley losing her gift wrapped Senate seat because of the voters' rejection of Obama's overall policies. While many Republicans are celebrating the Brown victory as such, I'm not certain that this is accurate.

This appears to be, at least from my vantage point, a rejection of big political machines that do not pay attention to what the voters are saying. With Washington it is always business as usual with too many politicians speaking on behalf of the American people while not listening to the American people. As one respondent said, "Are you listening now?"

Secondly, Scott Brown ran a good race in a state that is farther left leaning than is the core of the Republican Party. Scott Brown is probably not always going to be the vote that will please voters in middle America. He represents the citizens of Massachusetts. While he will be a conservative vote on foreign policy issues and rejects the current national health care spendfest, he might ultimately be considered a RINO by many conservative voters elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe he will ever be the milksop that Lincoln Chaffee was. I don't think he will be the too tempted to buckle Olympia Snowe either. I do think, however, that those expecting Scott Brown to be the voting twin of Tom Coburn will be disappointed.

Finally, I believe that this election is going to have a profound effect on the way that a number of elected officials will proceed. Perhaps Obama has not been totally repudiated by the voters in Massachusetts, but conservatives in the rest of this nation have been energized by Brown's triumph nonetheless. Few things in life are more dangerous that an underdog that believes he can win, and underdogs from sea to shining sea just got themselves a shot of adrenaline.

The Republican brass can take from this what it wants, but it too must be very careful. The voters are tired of having their voices ignored in favor of lobbyists and favored constituencies. They are tired of unfathomable levels of debt. They are tired of being told what they should want, while saying what they do want is ignored.

This might be a great day for politicians of both parties to start listening.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Glover Comes to CMU

Does anyone else find it ironic that Central Michigan University has invited Danny Glover to deliver the keynote address during its Martin Luther King Week festivities?

Would Dr. King embrace the policies of Robert Mugabe? Would he actively support the freedom crushing dictatorship of Fidel Castro? Would he be a cheerleader for Hugo Chavez as Chavez slowly turns his country into a third world backwater dictatorship?

Glover has done all of these things.

Shouldn't the keynote speaker for this week of celebration and remembrance be a person who at least pretends to pursue what Dr. King believed in?

CMU should be embarrassed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tax Me Please!

The question should not be whether or not Michigan taxpayers would be willing to ante up more to government in the form of taxes. The question should be whether anteing up more in taxes will help or hurt the economy, help or hurt job creation, help or hurt the creation of wealth, or help or hurt the state of Michigan.

A recent survey funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation found that

a majority of 314 Michigan residents said they would support an increase in the sales tax to balance the budget and cut business taxes to create jobs.
There was a day when I would have supported paying a bit more in taxes to turn things around. That was until I discovered that paying exorbitant taxes pushes the economy in the exact opposite direction.

Consumer spending is what drives our economy. It is not driven by government bureaucracies or by the wealth confiscated to keep it afloat, regardless of how willing individual taxpayers are to give a little more. (Or, better yet, willing to require that other taxpayers give a little more.)

The rules of economics are as steadfast as those of physics, particularly when dealing with huge sample sizes. The People's Republic of Michigan, with its 10,000,000 citizens, is an economy large enough to prove economic laws without a whisper of error. More taxation, whether given willingly or under the threat of jail, will do nothing but further impede economic growth in an economy already taxed as heavily as Michigan's is.

Take an additional $10 from me a month and I will certainly spend $10 less. How will I pare my personal budget back by $10? It sounds manageable enough and it probably would be. I will buy a couple fewer cups of coffee, stay away from one high school sporting event, go without a snack of sunflower seeds on my next trip to Lansing, and let that inefficient furnace filter go another couple weeks.

Voila! Problem solved.

Except that each of these personal consumer decisions, multiplied by millions of other consumers all of whom have had a $10 bill removed from their wallets by the pickpocket of government, add up to a significant decrease in consumer spending which will do nothing but add further malaise to our Michigan economy.

How many private sector jobs will be lost because of this?

Being cooperative in the fleecing of our own wallets, as many survey participants seem willing to do, makes us nothing more than agreeable targets of government grifters who cannot return this money to the economy without cutting its effectiveness and efficiency.

By definition, bureaucrats cannot improve these dollars' efficiency even if they wanted to (and many of them don't want to.) We might feel we are helping out by contributing to the greater good by voluntarily being taxed beyond a reasonable amount, but we are hurting ourselves and prolonging our economic predicament.

Many Americans already spend nearly 50% of their incomes in the support of government. They do this through income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, usage fees, and licenses, etc. In the grand scope of things perhaps it seems easy to find another small portion of income to toss into the government kitty.

Can most of us survive another small tax in support of our government? Sure, but do we benefit the economy by doing so? The answer is no, of course, but that doesn't seem to matter an awful lot to people who scoff at economic certainties in the face of a benevolent government's well run public relations scam.

Join the Jihad at your Own Risk

I do not support the use of torture, though I've been quite consistent in my attitude that water boarding and many other "enhanced" interrogation techniques do not qualify as torture. Be that as it may, I have a hard time sympathizing with all those claiming to be real torture victims.

Five American Muslims are now making torture charges against Pakistani authorities after having been apprehended in Pakistan during December. The five Americans, all from the Washington DC area, were reported as missing by their families in November after one of the five left behind a video in support of protecting Muslims from attack.

The five were reported missing by their families in late November after one of them left behind a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended. Two are of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent and two are of Ethiopian descent.
Well, who on earth believes that Pakistan and nearly all other middle eastern nations do not engage in torture? While Pakistan vehemently denies this particular accusation, it does not summarily deny it has a policy that will allow torture to get information.

To any loathsome Americans that wish to take the jihad overseas to kill Americans on foreign soil, please be aware that Muslim countries do not have the same attitude agaiinst torture that the country that you are leaving has. You join the jihad at your own risk!

Don't expect me to feel sorry over your dirty American asses getting caught in Pakistan pining for the jihad. Maybe next time you should just stay home and get a job.

On Martin Luther King Day

I have been very fortunate to have lived several of my too many years in the south. For eight Martin Luther King Days I called DFW home, and part of that extended experience was to learn from first hand accounts the effects that segregation and racism had on so many of its people.

Growing up in the north I'm not certain if in my youth I was even aware of "white" and "colored" drinking fountains. I do not remember church bombings, lunch counter sit downs, or vast civil rights marches taking place through streets supervised by the likes of Bull Connor. I had never even heard of Juneteenth or of the Tuskegee Airmen.

In fact, while I could never verify it, it is possible that the first time I had ever heard of a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. was on the day of his assassination.

King's contribution to black America, and indeed all of America, are today widely recognized. While his vision is still far from realized, it is a testament to his spirit and beliefs that today we celebrate a day named in his honor.

King's two most recognized works, I Have A Dream and Letter From Birmingham Jail can be found at the links provided via the Patriot Post.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When Science Looks Dangerous

Counseling has been suggested by authorities for a student and his parents after the child brought what school officials thought might be something dangerous to school. The item in question was an empty half of a Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached.

The items were assembled by an eleven year old for a science project at his technology magnet school, and were designed to work as a motion sensor.

No word on whether the project actually senses motion or not, but it apparently works really well in detecting and exposing layer upon layer of stupidity, overreaction, and outright ineptitude within the one size fits all educational establishment.

Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood Friday afternoon after an 11-year-old student brought a personal science project that he had been making at home to school, authorities said.

Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said the student had been making the device in his home garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. Friday and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.

The school, which has about 440 students in grades 6 to 8 and emphasizes technology skills, was initially put on lockdown while authorities responded.

Luque said the project was made of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached. There was no substance inside.

When police and the Metro Arson Strike Team responded, they also found electrical components in the student's backpack, Luque said. After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined. Students were escorted to a nearby playing field, and parents were called and told they could come pick up their children.
No charges are going to be filed, no compensation will be demanded for expended services, and the child will not be suspended for his project.

Just for good measure, authorities rifled through the family's house to make certain nothing dangerous was there either.
The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.

"There will be no (criminal) charges whatsoever," Luque said.

Police and fire officials also will not seek to recover costs associated with responding to the incident, the spokesman said.
What is the counseling for, to persuade the upset parents not to cause trouble over the district's stupidity?

If any money should be recovered by anyone it should be the taxpayers recouping some money from the idiots that evacuated a school and called out the Arson Strike Force because they didn't have the common sense to ask the kid what his project was about to begin with.

Is it too much to hope that some idiot bureaucrat educator loses a job over this?

h/t Overlawyered

Friday, January 15, 2010

Great Idea: Let's Create a Security Issue in Every Major US City!

This from the Associated Press and USAToday:

The Obama administration is considering a trial in Washington for one of the most notorious Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspects.

Officials tell The Associated Press that Hambali, an Indonesian linked to Osama bin Laden, is one of several detainees being considered for Washington trials. Others are being considered for New York City. Hambali is the suspected mastermind of a 2002 Bali nightclub bombing that killed 202 people.
Humbali was arrested in Thailand in early 2004. He was shortly thereafter turned over to the CIA.

Humbali was an important cog in al Qaeda's machinery. He was a close associate of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. He was instrumental in the planning and direction of widespread terror throughout much of southeast Asia.

As a potential soon-to-be civilian defendant, some questions must be asked.

Was Humbali read his rights when he was arrested? Was he granted legal representation in accordance to US law? Were any of his civil rights violated during the course of his arrest or his incarceration? How much information gleaned from this pecker will have to be thrown out because it was obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques?

To add insult to this, how much money will have to be spent on additional security if this terrorist is tried in US civilian court? (Estimates for the New York trials of Guantanamo inmates are more than $75 million.)

Why does he even qualify for a civilian trial in the US? He is not an American. He was not captured in America. He was not arrested by American forces. He has never, to my knowledge, stepped foot on American soil. He is not, by virtue of his terrorist operations, a qualified candidate for treatment under the Geneva Conventions.

Yet our government is considering trying him as a civilian in Washington, DC.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Face to Face with the High Cost of Education

I just returned from a short jaunt over to the community college where my daughter is dual enrolled. The dual enrollment allows her to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school.

Anyway, we made a quick stop into the college book store where we were able to purchase two used books in reasonably good a hard cover and one a soft cover.

Total price for the two books?


When she becomes a vet, spaying the family cat ain't going to come cheap.


If a natural disaster could be specifically aimed at any one area in which it could do the most damage, Haiti would be the perfect target. It is a country of harsh, long-term poverty and almost non-existent infrastructure.

If you have money to donate to the relief effort in Haiti, please do so.

As always, people should not donate to assist in the Haitian relief effort unless they are familiar with the charitable organization and confident that the money donated will actually reach the targeted area and directly assist those in need.

One such charity that people can donate to to help in this effort is the Mennonite Central Committee. Earmarked donations can be made here with 100% confidence that the money will used efficiently and wisely both in the short term and in the long term.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

John Conyers Doth Protest Too Much

Cross posted at Right Michigan

Not that it matters one whit to Attorney General Eric Holder, but Rep. John Conyers of Detroit thinks that he may have met the enemy, and that enemy might be the FBI.

From the Freep:

Detroit Congressman John Conyers is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for his personal assurance that the death of a Muslim leader in a shootout with FBI agents in Dearborn will be “rigorous, thorough and transparent.”

Conyers, a Democrat who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Holder today that also called for the Civil Rights Division to investigate whether the FBI has violated First Amendment freedoms by using undercover agents in mosques and other houses of worship.
Conyers' concerns are, of course, without impact on Holder as he is going to do what he wants to do regardless of whatever the obtuse Conyers implores, but Conyers' concerns speak volumes about several things; his God-like status among those who continue to vote him back into office election after election, his deep seeded hatred of and distrust for law enforcement, and his inability to fathom not only the danger of domestic radical Islam but how to fight it in a proactive manner. (Incidentally, if you think John hates law enforcement, wait until his trophy wife has an opportunity to speak.)

I do not heckle Conyers for his desire to have a thorough investigation. In fact, I agree with that. I think we all want the investigation to be thorough, complete, and even more transparent than Barack Obama's health care orchestration has been.

We all want to know what went on in that warehouse back in October. We all want to be assured that our agents follow all laws designed to protect us from government tyranny. We all want to make certain that during raids such as these that reasonable measures are taken to minimize the loss of life. But, when the FBI entered that warehouse and when reportedly Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah opened fire, the chances for loss of life rose exponentially.

A thorough investigation, the type that John Conyers says that he wants, will answer all appropriate questions and address our concerns.

However, Conyers doth protest too much. Saudi Arabia and other wealthy oil nations are the primary purveyors of fundamentalist violent jihad all over the world. They have exported this terrorism onto every continent where Islam resides. The Fort Hood shooter was connected to a radical cleric as were the terrorists in London, Madrid, Mumbai, Bali, Jakarta, Beslan, and on and on. With this importation has come heightened awareness, at least for those of us without flat EEGs.

For Conyers to even hint that the USA is unfairly targeting Muslims by monitoring suspected mosques emboldens our enemies, and these guys don't need any more nerve. He fans distrust and does his best to make our anti-terrorism efforts to appear anti-Muslim in nature.

Worse, if the undercover investigations of radicalized mosques become a legal taboo, our country will be forever relegated to playing defense against an aggressive killer, and prevention will quickly take a back seat to picking up body parts at the crime scene.

I prefer that we step in before the bomb goes off. As would, I think, most Americans.

Just Another Day in A Worker's Paradise

Venezuelans are just now getting an opportunity to try on for size their newfangled and stepped devalued currency. The devaluation is the result of its well-loved dictator for life, Hugo Chavez, trying to micromanage an economy that even by third world standards is too large for central planners to harness with middling success.

The country lies in shambles, unable to help its own citizens due to its incompetence and economic plundering, and unable to secure the assistance from outsiders because the country has reneged too often on its foreign debt obligations, and because it has discouraged outside corporate investment through its wont to nationalize whole industries within the blink of an eye.

Now comes Chavez with two new ideas to help out his lucky workers in paradise.

First is Venezuela's new power rationing program, designed to save electricity in a country that sits atop one of the world's richest energy hot spots. While blackouts are already commonplace in the country's remote south, the new blackouts will affect all Venezuela. Not to worry though, new government advertising will help citizens get used to the three minute shower and will instruct them on how to brush teeth without wasting any water.

Then Hugo got to thinking.

All of the country's necessary inconveniences would be easier to sell to the people if there was a programming pipeline to explain to subjects how gratifying it is for individuals to be able to sacrifice for the good of the collective.


For this, Hugo has had another great idea--to strongly encourage Venezuela's television networks to make soap operas more socialist. To help hasten this enactment he has announced a willingness to lend a hand to the networks, but, I'm sure, no pressure!

Soon 'The Young and the Content' will be jostling for ratings with 'All Hugo's Children' and 'One Life to Live for Everyone Else.'

In the end though, socially minded television watchers will only benefit from the exciting new programming if it takes place in time slots not scheduled for the new rolling blackouts.

A problem for which I'm sure Chavez has a solution.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anti-Terrorism Protest Organizer Threatend With Terror

Islam is the ultimate practitioner of identity politics.

Over the past several years there has been much well deserved criticism of Muslims for their relative silence in speaking out against terrorism. Certainly millions of Muslims do not believe in a violent jihad against the larger infidel world, yet this group tends to sit quietly in the background in the face of a more aggressive counterpart of the religion of peace.

Indeed, most of the protest coming from the Muslim community as it relates to terrorism has been in cautioning against anti-Islamist reprisals for its obvious connection with terrorism, rather than against terrorism itself.

This past week has seen two slight breaks from the norm.

First, several Canadian imams issued a fatwa against terrorism aimed at the US and Canada. Their religious directive was based on the belief that such attacks, because the US and Canada are home to many Muslims, are an attack against Muslims. While some positives can be taken from this, it was in part a renunciation of the violence because potential victims could happen to be Muslims, not because terrorist violence at its foundation is evil.

Also last week there was a anti-terrorism protest outside the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse organized by Majed Moughni, a Detroit area Muslim attorney. The protest was organized to take place while the undiebomber was being arraigned within the courthouse.

The protest turned out to be much smaller than hoped with perhaps a dozen or so Muslims renouncing the terrorist attack. For a well advertised protest to have such a small turnout in a city with such a large Muslim population is troubling.

But it doesn't end there.

As if on cue, Moughni has received a death threat by a man with an Arabic accent.

“I want to congratulate you for your place in hellfire, Inshallah,” the caller said, using an Arabic phrase that means "God willing." "If you’re in front of me, I will shoot you. I will put a bullet in your head. This is the consequence of a hypocrite.”
Moughni replied that his cause was a worthy cause for which to die.

Standing up against terrorism by a handful of Muslims is perhaps the first baby step in a journey that must encircle the Earth. We non-Muslims have to notice that the step took place and we have to encourage more such steps, but we must also demand that moderate Muslims, a group that Moughni obviously believes exists, takes back its religion from those willing to blow innocent civilians out of the sky in pursuit of the jihad.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mark McGwire And Friends

"Aye only ate spinach for me health. There’s no way aye ate it for me strength."

"Without it ayed still be the greatest sailor ever to sail the seven seas!"

Monday Ramblings by a Chronic Alarmist

Clearly it is time for the state to do something. People are dying senseless deaths.

We are a caring state. We proved it by passing legislation making it illegal for smokers to light up in bars and restaurants. (That is, unless the bar or restaurant happens to be in a casino where smoke miraculously has no poisoning effects.) We proved it too with the passing of our helmet laws and seat belt laws.

We prove it with mandated warning labels on everything from window screens to canned food. We see it proudly displayed in the purchase and installation of MDOT's expensive electronic signs that remind us that it is dangerous to smash into a deer while speeding, in the fog and on sheer ice, while sending a text message and eating a burger.

We care, we care a lot.

And yet, despite all our state's best efforts, people continue to die needlessly.

As of Jan. 3, the DNR had nine reported fatalities so far this year -- up three from the same time last year.
Each and every one of these snowmobiling deaths was a tragedy and was completely avoidable. I do not make light of death but am dismissive of governments and people who feel they can dictate the safety of others.

All of this got me thinking. Why don't we outlaw snowmobiles?

I'm not certain if such records are kept, but how many additional avoidable deaths could be attributed to the transport of snow machines? If you ever drive north on a wintry Friday evening you will see dozens of snowmobile trailers on the road, every one of them weaving back and forth making it virtually impossible for the rest of us to draft like that pantywaist Jeff Gordon.

There was a day, I suppose, when snowmobiling made more sense than it does these days. That would have been in the days where villages were not accessible by road, and before the Earth began dying a slow death at the hands of carbon emitters who selfishly hit the throttle in their greedy pursuit of happiness.

In this day and age though, where the off road village is rare and where Uncle Sam seriously wants access to our home thermostats, snowmobiles should be put on the short list of things to quickly outlaw. Snowmobiles are nothing but an extravagance. They would be best displayed in museums between the steam engines and Harry Reid's wooden teeth.

There are many reasons to outlaw snowmobiles.

First, there are the deaths themselves typically numbering a couple dozen in Michigan alone during the average winter season. Every one of them tragic and avoidable.

Then we must look at all the needless fuel that is burned not only by the machines themselves, but also used in the the unnecessary travel required so the machines can be transported to virgin snow.

In addition, how much money and resources are wasted on the unnecessary development and maintenance of groomed trails? Couldn't this money be better spent on the children?

How many polar bears die in melting seas at the hand of selfish sledders who spew carbon out of their tailpipes for nothing more than selfish enjoyment? They might as well run the bears down on purpose and club them to death.

Then there is the direct environmental impact. Look where these machines have impacted places like the Pigeon River area, pristine outposts near Paradise, and areas where cougars and the reclusive Sasquatch might habitate. If a dozen tortoises are enough to stop consideration for a solar power installation in California, certainly a handful of rare (and hopefully amorous) cougars should be enough to keep the noisy mood ruining sleds out of hearing range.

One of the justifications for the requirement of helmets for motorcycle riders is that those who hurt in accidents may have their health care costs become a burden on the state. In a day and age where our Congress is contemplating national health insurance, any health care issue may become a concern of the state whether it is caused by the unnecessary use of a snowmobile or incrementally the result of an all McDonald's diet. (Which, by the way, should be outlawed too.)

When we look closely at the beliefs of our Founding Fathers, we will find that they harbored no love for democracy. They feared a powerful majority's ability to simply pigeon hole individuals into behaviors favored by the majority. This is why our Constitution was designed as such, and why we live in a Representative Republic rather than a simple democracy.

Sadly, government has forgotten, over time, that individual rights should trump blind collectivism. People today are more than willing to support the outlawing of behaviors that they themselves do not enjoy or engage in. They have no problem supporting taxes that they would not have to pay. They have no concerns with embracing legislation that impacts other people's livelihoods while it leaves theirs more or less intact. To many non snowmobilers, the snowmobile is expendable.

Necessary freedom is personal. We might not smoke or ride a snowmobile, but we can choose to smoke or ride one, and we must appreciate and protect the freedom of making that choice. Immature Americans that demand personal freedoms for themselves often do not have the grace to project it onto others. Many want to control others by preventing them from doing what they would not do themselves such as smoke in a restaurant, go helmetless on a motorcycle, eat meat, waste gasoline in a big pickup truck, wear fur, or let the jeans ride a bit low in the back. (By the way, if my Mom had her way you would all be scraping those tattoos off your arms.)

To my knowledge snowmobiles are in no danger of being widely outlawed, at least not yet. But before we become too confident in the immortality of our snow machines and in the other things that make our lives enjoyable, we should at least recognize the fact that there are some among us who would be willing to sacrifice our enjoyment of life so that they could increase the enjoyment of theirs.

Thanks for humoring me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Prediction for Venezuela

The American left's favorite South American dictator is up to his old tricks.

Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has said troops will seize control of any business that raise prices in response to the devaluation of its currency.

He said there was no reason for prices to go up, and speculators' businesses would be handed over to the workers.
Chavez has run his country into virtual insolvency despite the fact it sits on some of the largest mineral reserves in the world. It has nationalized many industries, defaulted on international loans, threatened foreign investors, and vilified private business owners as enemies of "the people."

The country is collapsing in much the same manner that Zimbabwe has.

Economics teaches us that Hugo's latest foray into places where he has no discernment will spur inflation, reduce the availability of goods and services, discourage more investment, weaken infrastructure, and will further shock Venezuela's withering economy with expanded unemployment.

Other than that, I'm certain it will be a success.

Climate Affecting Polar Bears

Michael Ramirez, of course, via Power Line.

Reid's Racial Remark

The question has to be, at its core, whether or not Harry Reid made his remarks out of a racist intent. Not whether his bumbling words were sincere or whether they were offensive to some people. The question has to be whether Harry Reid is a racist and what he intended by his statement.

His record in the Senate would indicate that Reid is a bumbling nincompoop with a hand in the taxpayer till. He is a poor leader, poorly spoken, poor model, and has a piss poor record when it comes to pushing legislation that makes any economic sense. His long political career would not indicate that he is a racist.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologized on Saturday for saying Barack Obama should seek — and could win — the White House because Obama was a "light skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
Reid might be a language bumbler, and he might be an obtuse ass, but his comments do nothing more than expose him as someone who has noticed that Obama has light skin and does not speak with a black English vernacular.

This statement is no more racist than me noticing that Jimmy Carter has skin that looks like an ostrich boot and talks like a hick. Both of which are true.

I think Harry Reid is a dipstick of dangerous proportions. He has managed to use his position of power to enrich himself while selling America to the Chinese government. He is without moral direction, without historical perspective, and without a smidgen of economic wherewithal. He might also be an ignorant yahoo when it comes to race, but none of these things, in and of themselves, make the man a racist.

He is not a racist unless he feels himself superior to other races, or hates other races based simply on differences. His comments do not reflect this.

As The Blog Prof points out, there appears to be a lot of hypocrisy floating about when it comes to comparing Reid's current tongue tangling with that of other incidents where utterers were summarily condemned by those willing to fall all over themselves to accept Sen. Reid's apology.

All things considered though, it is fun to watch Reid grovel.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Janice Winfrey addresses Detroit

"If you say you love Detroit, but don't drive a Chrysler, GM or Ford, that's not love."
So said Janice Winfrey, Detroit's new city clerk, in an inauguration ceremony today in Detroit.

Perhaps Ms. Winfrey has not fully considered her words, but if she truly believes them, and if she wants Detroiters to follow her word's lead and buy only American automobiles for the sake of supporting Detroit, she is a believer in the larger process that helped turn Detroit into the sink hole that it is today.

It is an emotional and impassioned speech. It is, however, economical hogwash.

Consumers do drive the economy, and perhaps Winfrey has that part at least half right. There is no way around this little fact regardless of how many times people have tried. Consumption keeps the ball rolling. It is not the number of college graduates, it is not great museums and libraries, it is not cool cities, great roads, good police and fire protection, cheap education, or any one of the other things being touted by people not-so-in-the-know.

While Winfrey might understand the importance of consumption, she discounts the need for the producers of consumer items to mold their product lines into ones that are attractive to consumers. It is the consumer's dollar that forces companies to produce good products.

Poor products fail as a result of natural market conditions, and consumers should not be pressured into buying products that do not meet their desires, whether that is in a breakfast cereal, fresh produce, or an automobile.

Detroit struggles today because it historically refused to respond to consumer demands. It was outmaneuvered by other automakers that provided more appealing products for the consumer and provided them more inexpensively. If not for the infusion of foreign automobiles and their higher quality standards, we Americans would be driving $45,000 Vegas with 8-track players in the dash and life expectancies of about 80,000 miles.

Detroit could still control the world automobile industry if it's business executives, politicians, and labor leaders had been willing to provide consumers with what they wanted. Instead, they opted to mass produce crap, and only responded when they were forced to.

I currently drive an American automobile produced with high quality. It is a 1995 model still chugging along with 220,000 miles on it, and, do I really need to say it, it is a major chick magnet.

My next car might very well be a Ford. (I will never buy a new Chrysler or GM product again.) It might also be a foreign model too. When the time comes I'll kick some tires and see which company and dealership can provide me with what I think is the best deal for me. The best deal for my money.

Perhaps Janice Winfrey is looking at this exactly backwards. If Detroit and its industry truly loved the citizens of Michigan and Detroit, they would produce a vehicle that the citizens want. At that point, they would love to buy it too.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stupak a Potential Gubernatorial Candidate?

WCMU reported this evening that House Rep. Bart Stupak (D-union hall) is being considered by some within the Democrat Party as a potential gubernatorial candidate in light of John Cherry's inability to get his political record surgically removed from his political aspirations.

I have not had an opportunity to think much about this yet, but it would be my guess that Bart would be the most formidable candidate the Democrats could put forward this year.

Bart represents much that is wrong with this state. He is drastically pro union, pro spending, pro government intervention, pro taxes, and anti business. What makes him a dangerous candidates to the Republicans is that on about 10 per cent of the issues he votes more conservatively, and these votes have been very public.

He is pro-life, pro-nuclear, and pro-guns/hunting. These are lynch pin issues that will attract a fair amount of one dimensional voters who would be added to a huge monolithic liberal voting bloc that would vote democrat if Sponge Bob were on the democrat ticket.

I have not investigated Michigan's rules as to how this would affect his house seat and whether he can run for both offices concurrently. If he does not run again in Michigan's 1st district I can see the Democrats having difficulty hanging on to the seat.

Pure Michigan: A Sales Pitch for a Sales Pitch

cross posted at Right Michigan

I don't know about you, but I believe just about everything that either government or any politician tells me. Lock, stock, and barrel.

The state House of Representatives recently passed a plan sponsored by [Gary] McDowell that will grow Michigan's tourism industry by re-investing in the highly successful "Pure Michigan" promotional campaign. Every dollar invested in out-of-state advertising generates more than $40 for Michigan businesses and nearly $3 in revenue, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
If these claims are true, our government owes it to the Michigan taxpayers to jump on the Pure Michigan bandwagon with both feet, because all by itself it will solve our state's budget problem.

If, for every $1 invested the state can receive $3 in revenue and, if in addition to that, our businesses can recoup an additional $40 in new receipts, why aren't we spending every penny of Michigan's budget on "Pure Michigan"?

Why hasn't T. Boone Pickens and Carl Icahn called up the MEDC and offered to buy the department if every dollar invested would result in a tripling of the principle in only a year's time?

Screw education spending--put it all into Pure Michigan, and then parlay that bet! Sure, for the first couple of years our kids would be missing out on school, but by year four and five, after the dividend checks start rolling in, they won't need to work anyway. Nintendo 24/7!

I work (occasionally) for a struggling company in Michigan. If the owners were guaranteed $40 in revenue for every buck they spent in advertising we'd be living on easy street.

The reason none of this is happening, of course, is that these numbers are cooked for taxpayer (and voter) consumption from a context so complicated and restrictive that Houdini couldn't escape it.

It is a sales pitch for a sales pitch.

I do believe that few states can get as much bang for the advertising buck as Michigan can. When you get very far from our state's borders most of the people you meet merely equate Michigan with Detroit. This is not a kind equation. Too many outsiders feel the whole state is dirty and blighted and think most everyone living here is either on the Synagro Technologies payroll or breaks kneecaps for the UAW.

To them, Michigan is a two industry state, automobiles and corruption, and who wants to spend the summer vacation bouncing between the sights of a transmission factory and a back alley beat down? These are misconceptions of (most of) Michigan and do not reflect its total reality, and it does benefit our tourism industry at large to dispel such notions.

Michigan is a beautiful state. This fact, among those who live here or have ever visited, is not disputed.

Few other states can rival its depth and breadth of landscapes, seasons, activities and culture. People from many states travel millions of miles each year to reach our tourist destinations and drop off points from which they can further explore the state's even more remote beauty.

If the MEDC can get Michigan's businesses $40 for every buck it spends promoting tourism out of state, why cannot Michigan's tourist industry itself spend a few bucks out of state on its own for the same proportional result?

Or, have the wizards in government stumbled upon a super efficient money generating algorithm so secret and so fragile that it cannot exist outside the confines of a benevolent government agency's lab? If so, no wonder the Postal Service, Secretary of State's Office, and Amtrak rock so hard, though in retrospect it does appear as if the $800 billion federal bailout could have been more wisely focused.

As the old axiom goes, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and a 200% annual return on a taxpayer investment sounds pretty darn good to me.

Who do we need to make the check out to?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Rats Off A Ship

Christopher Dodd, the would be King who built his personal treasure through shameless political reciprocity and the invention of an impenetrable shell-like hair varnish, is the latest democrat incumbent to volunteer for the private sector. His announcement followed that of Byron Dorgan's by one day.

Dodd was vulnerable as a candidate in progressive Connecticut, a state that has little problem with proportionate scandals. However, Dodd's involvement with Countrywide Mortgage as well as his poorly timed endorsement of Fanny and Freddie just prior to their collapses, made him a bit too embarrassing even for Connecticut voters.

The move by Dodd will make it much more difficult for Republicans to pick up the senate seat.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Edsel Ford Students Wear 9/11 Commemorative Sweatshirts

It's all just good natured fun at Edsel Ford High in Dearborn where a group of high school students wore these commemorative sweatshirts to school.

The group was sent to the principal's office where the shirts were confiscated.

Perhaps in the aftermath of this incident we will get an outcry from the American Muslim and Arab populations that demands that this group of students apologize for their insensitivity to other Americans. Then again, maybe not.

Not the smartest of public relations moves in a city that sits in the frequent shadows created by jetliners landing at Detroit Metro Airport.

h/t Jihad Watch

Wanted: New Democrat Candidate for Michigan Governor

The Democrat Party of Michigan is looking for a qualified candidate for governor to replace the party's front runner that essentially had to drop out of the race because he was too closely associated with its current Disaster in Chief, Jennifer Granholm and, of course, because he is a blathering idiot all on his own.

John Cherry, Michigan's current Lieutenant Governor, is trailing in the polls against all three of the major Republican candidates in the race.

I doubt whoever the Democrats pick to replace Cherry will fare any better, because whoever does get selected will be facing a hard to overcome catch-22.

It will be hard for any well-known democrat candidate to win election in the fall as well known democrats will be too closely associated with the misery of Michigan after seven long years of Granholm. Yet, any candidate who can successfully slough off any association with Granholm will have almost zero name recognition, also virtually guaranteeing a sound defeat come next November.

I am personally disappointed to see Cherry drop out because if he had stayed in the race he was a near shoo-in for the nomination, and a near lock to be blown out of the water by any of the slate of more conservative Republicans running against him.

h/t Dennis Lennox

Monday, January 04, 2010

Who Says Government Cannot be Inventive

Hey, when it comes to connecting the dots on terrorism, our country might be led by a gaggle of nincompoops, but when it comes to uncovering previously hidden opportunities to scratch up a little extra revenue for government, there are geniuses at work.

From Reuters:

The attorney general for Washington D.C. has filed a lawsuit against an AT&T Inc (T.N) unit, seeking to recover consumers' unused balances on prepaid calling cards.

The suit claims that AT&T should turn over unused balances on the calling cards of consumers whose last known address was in Washington, D.C. and have not used the calling card for three years.
No word yet on whether DC politicians want to assume the responsibility of paying the bills of telephone customers who have walked away with an outstanding balance.

Found via Overlawyered and Radley Balco who envisions...
Next up, D.C. sues Burger King for stray fries that go uneaten after falling to the bottom of the drive-thru bag.

Go West Young Jihadist

It is discouraging at best to see that our Global War Crackdown on Terror International Perpetrators of Man Caused Disasters has run up against the dreaded absence of a "smoking gun" in the nearly man caused destruction of an airliner over Detroit.

"There is no smoking gun. There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane.'"
That is, other than a wallet $3000 lighter having purchased a one-way ticket, and the wallet's owner walking onto the aircraft having checked no luggage. We don't even need to get into any of the sordid "Nigerian" details, do we?

This information was provided to soothe an American audience by White House aide John Brennan, Barack Obama's top adviser on the prevention of man caused disasters. He might as well have just said 'It ain't our fault," and then walked off stage.

I thought ultimately, people seek elected office and seek public service positions to be responsible for something. I'm not certain I've ever seen an administration spend as much time and effort aggressively not accepting responsibility for the things it campaigned to control. Arguably, there has never been a transition process from one president to another designed to better allow the incoming administration to hit the ground running. For what purpose?

If there was ever a time to be concerned about the direction this country is headed in its effort to keep Americans safe from being blown to bits by Muslim jihadis, this is it. It took many months after 9/11 to put in place the policies and infrastructure necessary to more effectively fight against the jihad. 9/11 occurred after our intelligence budget had been slashed in the 1990s becoming effectively the intrinsic "peace dividend" that so many gluttonous bureaucrats slavered over in a desire to fund domestic social welfare projects. Both Republicans and Democrats were complicit in this.

The Soviet Union had fallen. New priorities emerged.

The CIA (a department that became more politicized during the Clinton years) had not only atrophied of existing field agents, but found itself in 2001/02 with even fewer candidates in the pipeline capable of eventually being placed in sensitive Middle East venues. Lag time from recruitment to on the ground assignment is measured in years rather than months. The development of assets such as these are impossible to quickly create.

There was Jamie Gorelick's information wall between the CIA and FBI that had to be dismantled. Different intelligence gathering agencies had to learn to cooperate with each other in a new age of non-competition. New techniques for the surveillance of terrorist networks had to be developed given the immediacy of events. The Patriot Act was passed. The Guantanamo detention facility was constructed and populated with terrorists. Policies were enacted with congressional oversight. Clandestine surveillance techniques were implemented that allowed us to track the financing of terrorists, listen in on international communications between terrorists, and mine other data. Lists of potential terrorists were created. New screening measures were created at airports. Student visas were perused more closely. On and on and on.

Each step was resisted.

In addition, federal authorities had to begin to closely follow rather pedestrian components of our society with renewed vigor. Crop dusting equipment, flight training schools, fertilizer manufacturing, etc., all became areas where additional diligence was necessary. All of these things demanded additional assets.

Still, we got lucky. When Richard Reid failed to detonate his explosive shoe over the Atlantic shortly after 9/11, Americans were exposed to a more sinister world where even a size 10 Nike could kill hundreds. This was not your Father's war.

We struggled on. American agents, using enhanced interrogation techniques, were able to get Khalid Sheik Mohammad to sing like a bird. (Finding valuable information in captured computers that amounted to a terrorist Rolodex didn't hurt either.)

As the years have passed, we have learned of several serious terrorist plots that were discovered and thwarted. New York subway tunnels were a target. Skyscrapers on both coasts and the midlands were targets. Airliner plots that would have rivaled 9/11 were uncovered and destroyed before they could even be attempted. Terror cells have been broken up. There are and were other plots too, both those made public, and those we must assume that remain secret so that our techniques of discovery and current surveillance remain secret.

Things are changing. More than eight years after 9/11, and more than eight years after we finally recognized that were at war with jihadists, our new administration resists the complexion of our war. This heightened emphasis on our appearance to those who would resist us while fighting a war of survival is having an effect not only on our ability to fight the war itself, but in disheartening our enemies along the way. It is safer now for a terrorist to try to blow up a domestic American target in, say, Detroit, than it would be for him to kill on distant soil. If that doesn't provide an incentive to 'go west young jihadi man,' I don't know what does.

Much was made of George Bush's handling of the war--that it inspired new jihadists and created breeding grounds for Muslims that hate America and the west. I'm sure that on some level that it did inspire some jihadists, but there seems to be no fewer jihadis willing to kill Americans now that a kinder president is in office. Our exposing a soft underbelly seems to have done little to cower the enemy.

President Obama's orchestration of this war, indeed, his reluctance to even consider it a war, is having a serious impact in our ability to fight terrorism. Those who believe that the absence of a "smoking gun" in the Detroit terror relieves the government of any responsibility is simply obtuse. Sooner or later, after years and years of building the personnel, policies and infrastructure necessary to fight an extended Hostility Against Whatever, these assets must be able to stand on their own despite an event that did not (arguably) provide a smoking gun in hindsight.

We have hired the likes of Barack Obama, Janet Napolitano, and John Brennan to investigate man caused disasters rather than prevent them. An accusation that the terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be able to shed some light on, that is, if he hadn't already lawyered up.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Not Just Incompetence But Incomprehension

If you read one article this weekend make sure it is Charles Krauthammer's "War? What War?"

The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration’s response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism “man-caused disasters.” Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York — a trifecta of political correctness and image management.
Obama reassured the nation that this “suspect” had been charged. Reassurance? The president should be saying: We have captured an enemy combatant — an illegal combatant under the laws of war: no uniform, direct attack on civilians — and now to prevent future attacks, he is being interrogated regarding information he may have about al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Instead, Abdulmutallab is dispatched to some Detroit-area jail and immediately lawyered up. At which point — surprise! — he stops talking.

This absurdity renders hollow Obama’s declaration that “we will not rest until we find all who were involved.” Once we’ve given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed, and sent him.
Read the whole article.

Mysterious claims are being made in terrorist circles that there are dozens of such trained jihadist bombers waiting in the wings to attempt the next aircraft disaster aimed at the United States. Meanwhile, Mutallab has zipped up.

This is not George Bush's fault.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A More Caring Era of Government Emerging

There has been a heated debate over the emissions created by second hand smoke here in Michigan. Recently the state legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that would effectively outlaw smoking within all restaurants and bars. (Exceptions were made for casinos and smoke shops because people who frequent those types of establishments are capable of fantastically ensconcing themselves within spheres of purified air that smoke is unable to penetrate. Or something.)

The argument really boils down to whether the government should be able to reach onto private property to protect the health of citizens who have chosen to engage in either the patronage of or employment within the private space of these establishments.

I am one of those non-smokers that thinks that he is fully capable of making his own choices on how to protect his lungs. I am also a person that believes that if I choose to allow smoking on my private property, the government should keep its benevolent hand (and bulbous snuffling nose) outside.

What's next, I ask, the government sniffing the air outside of private residences to make certain that no foul burnings are taking place inside?

Well, yes, that is what's next. From the Contra Costa Times via Overlawyered.

Another holiday, another sweep of smoke scofflaws.

Bay Area air pollution inspectors found 47 violators burning wood fires illegally during Christmas Day's Spare the Air alert — which was declared because cold, unhealthful air had been forecast.

The tally was more than double the 22 violators detected on Thanksgiving, when the Bay Area Air Quality Management District also called a Spare the Air alert.

Violators get written warnings for a first offense and $400 fines for a second offense.

While critics have bashed the air district for intruding on a holiday burning tradition, a spokesman for the agency defended the Christmas crackdown Monday, saying it was done to protect public health from soot that can trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate other respiratory and heart problems.

"We know a lot of people like to burn on this holiday, but it's our duty to protect public health," said Ralph Borrmann, the spokesman.
Chestnuts do not legally roast on open fires while Spare the Air alerts are in effect in the San Francisco area. While holiday carols can be sung by a choir in churches and such, don't breathe a word about xMas cheer in the public square. And seriously, the idea of a ravenous Jack Frost chewing on faces like some rabid dog could be down right scary to children, and aren't people bundled like Eskimos being a bit culturally insensitive?

The Velvet Fog should have been ashamed of himself--thankfully a new, more caring era has emerged.

Top Ten Most Memorable Posts of 2009

4. In one post I mentioned Obama sucks.
8. Something about the weather
Wow. That really was a bad year.