30 June 2009

Energy Czar doesn't have the energy to read

Carol Browner, the administration's "Energy Czar" admits that she has not read the entire 1000 page Waxman-Markey energy bill, much less the 300 page late night amendment...

Do you get the feeling that this is a trend? Doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reading going on in DC as they rush to ram their ideologically-driven legislation down our throats. While I would never expect the average American to read the full contents of most legislation, but when those making laws that affect the other 300 million of us don't read it either... well, that's criminal and it must come to an end.

Please help send them home in 2010. All of them. None are worth sparing. We literally must start over.

(hat tip: Doug Ross)

29 June 2009

Quick Hits - Legal Edition

Clearly I am no legal scholar, but as you know, I'm willing to put my two cents in on just about any topic...

Bernie Madoff: Just got sentenced to 150 years. The maximum. Good. It's what he needed. To hear him say that he has no excuse for his behavior is sickening. His excuse was greed. And now he expected a judge to only give him 12 years for ripping off people to the tune of $71 BILLION?! Please. If an 80-year old man now has to return to work as a supermarket butcher (not an easy job, mind you) to make ends meet, then Mr. Madoff should have to do HARD time and not his remaining years sitting in the sun as some prison camp.

You're next Mr. Stanford...and you're sentence won't be any less lenient.

New Haven Firefighters: Vindicated. While the wildcard Justice Kennedy's coin flip landed on the right side this time, true justice was served. The city of New Haven got exactly what it deserved too. To hide behind disparate impact for fear of being sued by minorities got them sued by the majority. Perhaps they were doomed to be sued either way. However, they followed a pretty rigid protocol with their test and the outside company they hired to develop and administer it. So, they were clearly thinking ahead. To take away ALL promotions because proportions were not met is insane. It is traditional Liberalism. Instead of all boats rising with the tide, we punish success so that everyone is brought down to the same level.

And as for our loony Justice Ginsburg - may forces greater than I hasten her departure from the Supreme Court. In her dissent, she actually says the firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them." Are you kidding me?! Excuse me Justice G, but they met the requirements of service and to take the test, and then they passed the test. Sounds to me like that's EXACTLY a vested right to promotion. Perhaps we should apply your standard to judges - especially to the Supreme Court.

What say you Judge Sotomayor? This, plus her membership in La Raza, should be major red flags during her confirmation hearings. Activism has no place on the bench.

Michael Jackson: Now that he's officially gone, if you thought his LIFE was a circus... just you wait. I predict this is going to make the fiasco surrounding Anna Nicole's death look sane.

Side Note: It saddens me that others who have passed this week have not received the proper remembrance they deserved. Farrah Fawcet and Billy Mays, each important in their own right, also passed and we are sad for their families and friends as well.

SC Governor Mark Sanford: I would not expect him to resign because of his extramarital affairs. Name a Democrat who has. However, I might fully expect him to resign for disappearing and leaving no instruction or notice as to his whereabouts. Not quality, or perhaps even legal behavior for the chief executive of a state government. Poor decision, Mr. Sanford - and you've set the party back. Nice job.

Iranian Election Recount: Expect it to be about as legitimate as the election itself. By the way, since we're so concerned with the free speech rights of the Iranian electorate, isn't it time we revisited the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold?

26 June 2009

A Picture is Worth...

25 June 2009

Consumer Impact of Cap & Trade

Using the government's OWN DATA, the graph below illustrates the net impact to consumers on a state by state basis:

How much are you willing to give up so other states can benefit?

How much so the federal government can engage in political corruption by rewarding contributors with "indulgences"?

Tell me once again how this isn't a massive energy tax?

Quick Hits

Government Run Healthcare: An excellent point was made today regarding a "publicly funded healthcare option"... Rush Limbaugh, on his radio program asked, "Will the members of Congress and the President opt out of their current healthcare plans to participate in the new government-run 'public option' ?"

If the answer is anything other than a collective "Yes", then we do not need whatever it is they purport to offer. Simple as that. If it's not good enough for them, it's not good enough for us.

Furthermore, Sean Hannity on his radio program yesterday, asked if the government program would be subject to all of the reporting requirements and regulations that private insurers have to comply with? Again, if the answer is anything other than "Yes", then it is a trojan horse designed to unfairly, under the guise of competition, eliminate private insurance options.

I know these are two prominent Conservative commentators, but your putting D's and R's aside, who among us can disagree with these two questions? I do not think it is rationally possible.

North Korea: It's time to stop playing games with them. Period.

Cap & Trade: Vote expected tomorrow. The House can pass it easily - even as Nancy Pelosi greases the palms of representatives (mostly Democrats) who still have reservations about the bill. The Senate may be able to kill it - and should. It's bad for America - top to bottom, but especially the bottom...

The main problem is that the administration and Democrats are looking for energy legislation, but it is independent and not part of a comprehensive energy plan. So, we'll get some ineffective, poorly reviewed, misguided laws on the books, and the next Congress and President will have to work very hard to correct, if not repeal it altogether. America, you've been warned...again.

As with virtually every other piece of legislation that has come out of DC in the past 6 months, no one has had proper time to read and dissect this bill. My guess is that pattern is not going to change and we will see yet another instance of Obama ignoring his campaign promise to post it 5 days before signing.

Let me guess, it's an emergency if we don't act now - so it's not subject to the normal process.

Farrah Fawcet: My condolences to her family on her passing from her well-documented struggle with a rare form of cancer. The approach they took in making her fight very public will give hope to many people and drives even more awareness about the importance of cancer research.

As unfortunate it is to say at this time, but do you really think a government healthcare plan will have the necessary resources to research the disease and investigate treatments? That's currently a job private enterprise will do. However, if the government opts in, these companies will have no incentive to pursue these opportunities because the free market will not ensure the profits these companies need to continue life-saving research.

22 June 2009

Michael Ramirez Goes There

Michael Ramirez is the pre-eminent political cartoonist today. As always, he finds a way to make a picture worth Washington's words... or in this case... their lack of words...

In case you haven't heard the story of Neda, you may want the background.

21 June 2009

Why I Fly Southwest

The airlines just don't get it.

Why can't they figure out that it costs X dollars to fly plane Y from point A to point B? The distances never change, the labor costs barely fluctuate, and landing rights/maintenance/operations rarely change. I can understand modificaitons in fares because of fuel, but this nickel and diming of the traveling public is maddening!

According to the article, "Airlines say fees are part of "a la carte" pricing that allows them to hold the line on fares. Rather than charge higher fares to everyone, they say, passengers can pick and choose the extras they want to pay for. "

If a flight costs $200, but then I now have to pay $15 for check in, $15 for a checked bag, an additional $5 if I do it at the airport, $5 for a drink and peanuts, $25 for premier check-in, $15 to actually have a seat assigned, $5 fuel surcharge, and any other myriad of ridiculous fees the airlines are charging, then I really don't have a $200 fare, now do I?

Airlines are more worried about how to make money per passenger, rather than systemwide. Let's start by ending unnecessary flights. While we're at it, let's look at fewer hub flights. People who live in hub cities almost never get as good of fares as those who connect. But instead, airlines continue to dump money into all of these ancillary services that they used to provide, yes, as part of your total fare. But now, fewer and fewer people are taking advantage of the $7 pillow, yet we are all still paying for them, you know, just in case...

If airlines want to keep customers happy, start by focusing on turnaround and on-time departures and arrivals. Not a single major airline can boast in excess of 85% - and in many cases, it is significantly lower (try an industry average of 78%). Clearly, the unions have a large hand in all of this with labor taking full advantage of protections to work often less than efficiently. The second step would be to stop with all these "a la carte fees" and just give passengers ONE PRICE. It will take the guesswork out of it for everyone and likely make planning travel - both by the public and the airlines - a much more streamlined event.

Who knows? It may even make them profitable one day... just like Southwest.

Destroying Healthcare

With so many questions about costs, coverage, administration, and whatever else accompanies the implementation of a new government program, Doug Ross and Mark Levin take aim at the reasons behind why the Democrats want to ram through healthcare reform (see The Politics of Hurry).

I think an important aspect that they've left out, however, is the fact that a "public option" is basically the "out" businesses will ultimately choose as the less expensive avenue, thereby taking away the "choice" the Democrats are currently parroting as "protected". Of course its protected... until private insurers can't compete with the government and are forced to shut their doors.

Talk is cheap, and semantics fool. But given the fact that the Obama administration seeks to "re-run" the number analysis through the Office of Management & Budget which is a (partisan) White House entity. There, they can massage the numbers to get something more palatable to sell to voters while looking like they've conducted an independent analysis. They want to do this because the CBO's analysis (which pretty much all presidents and congressional bills have relied on for decades) didn't fit with their agenda.

Normally I only post the referring link for such a story, but I've included the entire article here:

Why does Obama seek to crush free-market health care?

(from Doug Ross & Mark Levin)

The Democrats' War on Poverty is nearly 50 years old, yet we're told there's too much poverty despite trillions in wealth transfers of every type.

The Democrats have run the education system for nearly 100 years -- with monopolies like the NEA and the AFT teacher's unions, yet we consistently hear that education is broken and that schools need more money.

Government was responsible for securing the southern border since the era of LBJ and it has intentionally failed in order to bolster the Democrat Party's voting base; this has led to the presence of as many as 20 million illegal aliens in the country thanks to Johnson's policies including "chain migration". It has helped result in bankrupted states like California as Democrat policies ensure a culture of dependency.

Democrats were responsible for implementing Medicare and Medicaid, which along with Social Security, are in ruins with approximately $55 trillion in debt. That's nearly a half million dollars for every household in America.

Democrats raped the Social Security Trust Fund -- there is no trust fund. They raped the Medicare Trust Fund -- there's nothing left. They raped the Highway Trust Fund -- it's empty. I could go down a long list of things the government said it would do, but hasn't done. Because the Statist Democrats are liars. They even moved these massive expenditures "off the books" to conceal the damage they've done.

And now the Statist Democrats are launching the most massive attack on the American people in the history of government.They promise health care for everyone, but they will not -- and they can't possibly -- deliver it.

While our health care system is certainly imperfect -- because all humans are imperfect, including doctors, nurses, hospitals and insurance companies -- they are more perfect, more competent, more informed, more capable than all of the bureaucrats to whom they'll be forced to report: a bureaucracy that will make all decisions about your health care.

And it is easy to confirm the havoc that socialized medicine will wreak on American society. All you need to do is to look at how Democrats are trying to ram home socialized medicine: they're doing it as fast as possible with as little debate as possible. For the indigent and the poor, we already have programs like Medicaid and SCHIP and dozens of state programs. Yet we're told tens of millions of us must give up our private insurance and pay for a government-run program.

Democrats claim it will be more cost-effective and efficient. That's bulls***. The man who's had the least experience at running anything is going to unleash the most massive federal leviathan in history, nationalizing nearly 20% of the economy.

This has been the dream of the Statist Democrats since FDR: to force each and every one of you, whether you like it or not, into a strait-jacket form of health care. It controls you; the actual being, the person.

Nameless, faceless bureaucrats substituting their decisions for those of your doctor.Deciding whether you will have an operation or not. Whether you will have an MRI or not. Whether you will receive a life-saving, life-extending drug or not. And we know this, because this is what occurs in Canada and Britain and other centralized bureaucracies, where you simply cannot have similar access to advanced health care.

Where will their new drugs come from, since we produce half of them? Who will invent the new medical technologies for them, since we invent roughly three-fourths of them? Who will run the hospitals and what will they look like when the government unions run them? Who will be responsive in a massive federal bureaucracy, where no one takes responsibility for anything, and yet they're all-powerful decision-makers for your family's well-being?

And for what? Why would anyone advocate dismantling our health care system for something that won't work and will further bankrupt our nation? Because, for one thing, it's yet another payoff to the Union bosses and ACORN who owe billions in health care benefits they don't want to pay.

Where will Barack Obama be in ten years, when the rest of us are struggling with a massive, out-of-control, federalized medical system that doesn't give a damn about individuals and is busy rationing? He will be retired as a very young man; a very wealthy young man, who will have imposed his Marxist ideology upon this society and then walked away from it.

The politicians don't last. But their policies live forever.

And in every successive election cycle, the Democrats will use the health care system to bludgeon their opponents. They will use health care as a weapon, rewarding you by offering more benefits for your votes and punishing you with less benefits if you dare to vote against them.

So much power for a faceless set of bureaucrats who can't possibly have the best interests of your family in mind. And yet they're going to take those decisions away from you and your doctor. And they've been lying every day to justify what they're doing.

They've been lying about the number of people without health care. They've been lying about whether the public is satisfied with health care. They've been lying about every aspect of health care. They unleashed the slip-and-fall lawyers on the medical system, causing untold higher costs for medical practitioners. They've attacked the health care system relentlessly, driving up costs just like they've attacked the energy industry and the automakers.

And even when they have complete monopolistic control of a system, like the educational system in America, they want more control. It's never enough. They want more money, more regulations. More. They need to "invest". They need to raise taxes. They need to repress. They need to compel. Because the Statist cannot make the imperfect perfect, even though he says he can. The Statist is more imperfect than anyone else.

I ask you to consider something: what kind of persons can Obama and the Democrat leadership be, to think they can do these things when history tells them they can not? What kind of a mind refuses to look at the evidence? What kind of person would refuse to look at Britain and Canada? Or engage in arm-twisting secretly, behind the scenes? And use brownshirts like ACORN and the SEIU to intimidate organizations and legislators alike?

They're going to rush socialized medicine through the system, without any debate or transparency... and it's going to be a complete disaster on multiple levels.

Call the so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrats now. Make your voice heard. Help us stop this rush to disaster.

18 June 2009

Quick Hits

North Korea - Rumor has it that the DPRK is going to "test fire" another missile in the next few weeks. Word is that they plan to "aim" it towards - or in the direction of - Hawaii. My guess is that Obama will do nothing about this at all other than offer up another teleprompter aided finger wag because it has been an effective strategy so far.

Here's where Obama and I would differ as President: I'd take it off the launching pad with a strategic strike (although I'd have already done it to an earlier launch). If that option failed to materialize or if we were surprised by a launch, assuming it was either shot down, or didn't quite reach Hawaii, the launch towards the US would be plenty defensive justification to decimate Pyongyang with a modern day Hiroshima. Harsh, I know - but this is going on a 20-year problem. My next step would be a press conference to tell the Iranians unequivocally that they can expect something similar should they continue to play games.

It's time to stop playing these silly waiting games with an uncooperative, irrational nation. Under my plan, the problem is solved.

Education - In a just and fair society that truly seeks to advance itself, the highest paid people would not be athletes or movie stars, they would be doctors, police and firemen, and most importantly, teachers. The education of a population is the most important thing a society can do. In my opinion, we are on the brink of having completely failed in this regard.

The public education system in this country has failed many, especially children and minorities. The main problems are unqualified teachers who are protected by unions and bureaucrats as well as a lack of accountability from school administrators and parents alike. There are good schools and parents out there, but as a whole, we are in big trouble. By contrast, private schools continue to graduate intelligent kids, as do charter schools - which are on the rise.

Lisa Keegan has an excellent piece on what it takes to be a teacher and excel in the process.

Iranian Elections - It will be interesting to see if the current regime can withstand the power of the people. And I'm not speaking of A-Jad... I'm talking Mullahs this time... I think they actually fear the power of the masses against them. Perhaps a new wind is blowing in Tehran as well...

(Side Note: Do you also wonder why the protesters signs are mostly in English?)


Have you heard? Obama killed a fly. PeTA used it as an opportunity to let everyone know just how far they will go to appear relevant...

It's time to audit the Fed. As it stands right now, they are accountable to no one. No entity with a finger in government funds should be closed to public scrutiny - especially one with this much concentrated power.

Will Schwarzenegger finally terminate the status quo in bankrupt California?

Need a break from work? Check out Mousebreaker for a brief respite from the 9-5 grind...

Comparing the Presidents

A friend sent this to me today via email (hat tip: Patrick). I thought it was an astute observation, but more importantly, I think we are beginning to see more of this type of analysis - especially given the "fly kill" episode that dominated the headlines yesterday - as well as voter frustration with it. I've highlighted what I thought was the best line... Enjoy.

Last week I was stuck in Newark Airport awaiting my flight to Chicago. Since I drank too many cocktails the night before, I did a horrendous job packing. There I was sitting at my gate without a book, no iPod, chewing tobacco, or even a Tylenol for my throbbing headache.

Needing something to do, I wandered into Borders where I came across a magazine completely dedicated to the Presidents of the United States. Since every other mag in the place was either focused on Lindsey Lohans upcoming suicide or Jennifer Anniston’s depressing sex life, I purchased the Presidential mag and moved on.

I centered on the chapters that focused on the titans of our Democracy; the founding fathers, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, Kennedy, and Reagan. Putting partisanship aside, I tried to find the common trait that made these men great leaders and the qualities that allowed them to lead our nation in times of turmoil. It wasn’t difficult, all of these men had the fortitude to cast their ego’s aside and put the nation first.

They took courses of action that benefited the country in the long run, regardless of what it did to their legacy in their own particular times , and shockingly in many cases they hated the office they dedicated their lives too. My feelings of American pride were quickly banished however, when I realized more than ever that despite what the media and the masses try to sell, President Obama lacks many of these traits. He is a reality TV celebrity who cares more about being a star than he does about being effective. In fact, Obama recently had ABC come in and wire the White House with an optical switching technology that allow cameras to link up with patch cords based on the day’s shooting schedule (not much different than the way they filmed MTV’s Real World or the way they currently shoot CBS’s Big Brother reality show). For anyone who disagrees, please read the following comparisons with an open mind.

George Washington’s desire after the Revolution was to retire to Virginia and run his farm. An overwhelming majority of the country wanted to name him king, and give him absolute power. Since the new government did not have the money to pay the soldiers who fought in the war this would have been an easy task. The military was loyal to him and not the gov’t. Not only did Washington put down the rebellion, but he refused to take absolute power of a country that was begging him to. For the first time in history a conquering military commander handed control of a government back to the people. Peacefully. Every action Washington took was precedent. He went out of his way to avoid any action or gesture that would put him above the gov’t, and even more amazingly decided that a President should only serve two terms, when clearly he could have had the post for life. In parting he told newly elected Adams he was sorry for he was about to endure as President.

Does anyone believe, even for a minute, that Obama would have taken these same steps? Would his love for attention and control have made him rationalize the decision to create a post more powerful than President? Would he have stepped down after only 2 terms? Would he have limited the role the American President was going to play? I think even the most loyal liberal must have some lingering doubts about those questions.

Thomas Jefferson made a grand total of two public appearances and oral speeches during his Presidency. TWO!!! Both were his inauguration speeches. He so loathed the responsibilities of the office that he left it off the epitaph on his tomb stone. He believed that the powers of the office should be limited and the states should have an important say how their populace was governed.

Obama is on TV at least 2 times a day. His Presidency is a media event. He appears on late night talk shows, lives in front a teleprompter. In fact yesterday he gave Lebron James a tour of the white house. Apparently their aren’t anymore pressing things to attend to.

Many people compare President Obama to FDR. Both men inherited office during a time of financial turmoil, and both expanded the office and the executive branch. However there are some fundamental differences here too. I lifted the next passage from an article.

“Roosevelt was no radical; indeed, he shared many of the conservative convictions of his class and times. He believed deeply in both balanced budgets and the demoralizing effects of relief on the poor. He tried mightily to rally the business community to his side. For him, the labor movement was terra incognita and — though it may be hard to believe today — played no role in his initial policy and political calculations. Nonetheless, right from the beginning, Roosevelt cobbled together a cabinet and circle of advisers strikingly heterogeneous in its views, one that, by comparison, makes Obama’s inner sanctum, as it is developing today, look like a sectarian cult.”

Obama intends to CONTROL Wall Street and nationalize any industry he feels is underperforming. General motors is now Government Motors and he alone has the final say how they are run. He has no intentions of kick starting capitalism, he has created a socialist agenda that is his to command.

Obama has gone out of his way to link himself with Lincoln. He has gone so far as to be sworn in with the Lincoln bible. But lets not forget that Lincoln was a Republican and believed in the tenets of the party. He was a humble man who was thrust into a series of events that caused him to take action. He did not take actions that thrust himself into a series of events. Lincoln was a humble man who questioned his actions. Obama had this quote in 2004 at the dem national convention “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.”

I’ll sum this up with a Ronald Reagan quote, “Government does not solve problems, government is the problem.”

-Six Gun

16 June 2009

Outright Ridiculous

So, Justin Denney, a senior at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, ME, walks across the stage to receive his diploma and in the process turns to the crowd, bows, and blows his family a kiss... What a pleasant honor to his family who has supported him through to this rite of passage.

The superintendent sent him back to his seat without his diploma. He has not officially graduated.

So, who's really "acting up" or "showboating" here? I say it is the school administrators. According to multiple published reports, other students had inflated beach balls and were bouncing it around. That would be disruptive for a graduation ceremony. Thus, those students were separated and also did not receive diplomas. However, bowing to your family and blowing them a kiss is not disruptive. It's not showboating. It's respect.

But when you have administrators threaten kids with arrest and have police, in essence, detain kids separate from others, school officials have gone way past what's acceptable. You see, many of these people are not educators. They are control-freaks. They can't see past their own little fiefdoms. If this young man had done a cartwheel or stripped off his gown for a t-shirt with some crazy message, I can understand that it may meet with some consternation from school officials and reprimands would be in order. However, this is simply an out of control administrator who has not, will not, and likely cannot fathom relinquishing even the slightest bit of control over these students. For them, it is a clear lack of respect.

When the educational system focuses this much on controlling graduation celebrations and non-classroom related behavior (especially when their own parents are in attendance) rather than holding teachers accountable, ensuring students are learning and passing (as this young man clearly did), it may need to be completely scrapped and started over. When you read an article that indicates that "No arrests were made" at a graduation, and that refers to the students, something is beyond wrong.

Graduation is a time to celebrate and release some of that pent up anxiety. It's high school. They're kids. It's been happening for decades. They need to lighten up and just go with the flow sometimes. Heck, it only happens once a year!

I'm not certain whether this superintendent is elected or appointed, but either way, she should be fired. This is outright ridiculous and the parents of this child are right to demand an apology and the ability to have their son honored just as he was honoring them.

15 June 2009

The Politics of Hurry

So the Obama Administration uses the word “crisis” quite often, and as we’ve discussed before, Rahm Emanuel wholeheartedly approves. For a party that criticized the use of fear tactics after 9/11 in admonishing citizens for giving up their constitutional rights, there seems to be no end to their willingness to circumvent the legal processes that make up the checks and balances that have kept this type of naked power grab in check for over 200 years, but here we go anyway… The end result – bad legislation enacted as a result of the politics of hurry.

Let’s start with the most blatant overstepping of bounds with the czars…

Czars – on what Constitutional authority do these appointees of the President base their activities? Here’s the latest tally from Something New Every Day:

- Border Czar Alan Bersin
- Energy Czar Carol Browner
- Urban Czar Adolfo Carrion, Jr.
- Infotech Czar Vivek Kundra
- Faith-based Czar Joshua DuBois
- Health Reform Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle
- TARP Czar Herb Allison
- Stimulus Accountability Czar Earl Devaney
- Non-proliferation Czar Gary Samore
- Terrorism Czar John Brennan
- Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein
- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske
- Guantanamo Closure Czar Daniel Fried
- Great Lakes Czar Cameron Davis
- Special Master for Compensation Kenneth Feinberg
- Cybersecurity Czar (yet to be named)

Special envoys that fall into the czar category:

- Afghanistan/Pakistan special envoy Richard Holbrooke
- Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell
- Special Advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia Dennis Ross
- Sudan special envoy J. Scott Gration
- Climate special envoy Todd Stern

Paygoa legislative farce from both parties. Clever semantics meant to confuse the American people with the veil of fiscal responsibility. Notice that any talk of “paygo” only applies to spending they haven't discussed yet or it isn’t applicable to the grandiose plans they have already pitched with no ability to pay for.

Stimulusthe 1st real emergency: No measureable effect whatsoever - especially in the "saved jobs" category. They projected top unemployment at 8%. It is currently at 9.4%. Biden says they “guessed wrong”. Less than 15% has been spent. What happened to shovel-ready? We can’t afford for them to “guess” on this level.

How’s this for an example of shovel-ready? A perfect example of how the administration is not thinking things through clearly in their rush to pass emergency legislation: The massive stimulus bill that added a whopping $25 per week to many Americans paychecks has now made hundreds of thousands ineligible to continue receiving their food stamp benefits. With the generosity of the government, they took more away from the families they purport to protect the most. The government giveth, and then they taketh away.

Bailoutthe ongoing emergency: TARP money can be paid back – but not all of it… only limited amounts as the government sees fit. Now, repayments are being viewed as revolving funds – which also STILL have no Constitutional authority. This is another example of what happens once you give the government a new power or the right to impose a new tax – It. Never. Goes. Away.

GM/Chrysler bankruptcy settlementsthe too-big-to-fail emergency: The UAW came out with larger chunks of ownership in both companies which is really strange because they had NO ownership going in! Not to mention this injustice was committed at the expense of secured creditors such as retirement and pension funds. The President has absolutely NO CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY to make these decisions, strike deals, or use funds in this manner. The bigger question is will they be willing to make the hard decisions they forced management into these past 10-20 years?

Meanwhile, the government continues to repay their unions buddies in the overnight and airline industries by changing the rules of operation for successful companies to now benefit unions by making it easier for them to organize. Small insertions into the turbo legislation now modifies the Railway Labor Act to benefit companies like UPS, but more so the Teamsters – who desperately want to organize at FedEx. UPS has no problems with this since it will hurt FedEx. Neither does the union. Big surprise. I use this as an example of liberals bringing down efficient success instead of requiring others to step up and compete. Instead of all boats rising in the tide, all boats fall by draining the swamp.

Healthcarethe most pressing emergency (now for a decade or more...): This impending debacle will be paid for via a “downpayment” (notice that isn’t “pay-as-you-go”) by increasing taxes (on a dwindling segment of) on $250K earners to the tune of $634 Billion, plus yet-to-be-identified phantom savings of $313 billion that the White House parrots are calling “scoreable”. Does Obama stop to think that the same people he’s telling to take less for their services are the same people he expects to increase taxes on to pay for this exercise in socialized futility? Let’s hope this remains a challenge in Congress.

Climate change (cap and trade)the manufactured emergency: We are the only civilized country willing to damage our own economy further by these unilateral policies. Don’t believe the hype.

And in all of this drunken spending that is so necessary to ward off impending doom that only the government can foresee, the apologists at NYT say this was all set in motion by Bush . Just can’t let go and take responsibility for once, can they?

I say the only thing we need to expedite is the days and weeks until the 2010 elections to stop this madness. It is nothing short of “sound-bite legislation” which cannot be good. Americans are already showing significant signs of buyer’s remorse as many polls will indicate. However, for now we can expect “the politics of hurry” to be the call over the Summer - as if we haven’t waited decades enough already, that this now has to be done in less than 5 weeks or the door will close forever.

Someone be sure to latch the windows too.


Quick Hits

Iranian Elections – why is it that we condemn Iran for not allowing free speech and debate within a few days of the elections, and shutting down texting and social networking sites to quell anger over what appears to be a tainted outcome…yet we enacted laws that say similar silencing of free speech is perfectly acceptable (McCain-Feingold)?

Twitter – Is twittering real time updates really the best use of our legislators’ time both at the state and federal levels?

12 June 2009

Sczary Situation

Barack Obama has appointed another "Czar" in the past week, or is it two... heck, I can't keep up. What I do know is that there are now like, 19 or something. This small cadre of individuals have been appointed by the President to advise, manage, control, rule over (...choose your administrative style) particular aspects of our nation's business - and now of private business. While this is not unprecedented in its approach, Obama has taken it to a new level. A dangerous level. The President is using Czars as pseudo-Cabinet posts and giving them practically equal power. Yet, there are no checks or balances on this power as prescribed by the Constitution.

A lot of bloggers and conservative pundits have sounded the alarms about the US heading into Socialism or Fascism under this administration. Yet, they come out on occasion and pitch the people on why another czar is necessary. The last two appointed were for food and nutrition and executive compensation. It begs the question... are they right?

Czars are not accountable to ANY branch of government. They are not voted on by the people. They are not confirmed by Congress. There is no precedent within the courts to validate their existence. The key factor is that they "serve at the request of the President". Meanwhile, they are influencing, if not making policy that affects all Americans. So, when we don't like a decision they make, what is our recourse?

I think people are beginning to recognize this for what it is. A naked power grab for the President to have the final say in as many matters of American life as possible. I think Obama has stayed true to his radically-associative past. A leopard doesn't change its spots.

By skirting the constitutional processes in place, the President is gambling on his "I won" attitude that he will be allowed to do this unchecked. However, we get to vote again in 2010, in some places this year. As I noted before, the political winds are changing and Americans on both sides don't like what they see out of this President and Congress. As Democrats in NY vote with the Republican leadership because their own is too radical, and as Conservatives make a comeback in Europe to keep the Left in check, so too will American swing back to the middle.

Americans bought into the idea of change. And I agree. Change is sorely needed in DC. But with this President, it isn't even "the more things change, the more they stay the same"... This President is intent on the "fundamental" change he touted during the campaign. Where that leads, no one knows. But my guess is that when we get there, we won't like what we've allowed him to do.

09 June 2009

Reality Check

I post this with the link because it shows the very real and perilous situations we are faced with in dealing with terrorism. To sugar-coat this as the current administration feels compelled to do, is not only dangerous, it's naive and foolish. The link below showcases examples of what we now know as the very nebulous "Overseas Contingency Operations" (formerly known as the War on Terror).

In a muted review of Obama's "outreach" speech to the Muslim world, Rubicon3 has a pictorial reminder (Graphic Content Warning) of what Islamic extremism has brought us in return. He truthfully asks the question, "And I wonder, where is their attempt at outreach?"

Commenter Charles posts, "We gave peace a chance - they gave us 9/11."

On point, Rubicon. We can't change history, and neither should we forget it.

08 June 2009

Quick Hits

Exactly how do you “save jobs”? Currently the administration is taking credit for creating or saving 150,000 jobs in first 100 days. Now, the administration claims to be able to create or save 600,000 by the end of the summer. Well that’s just dandy considering over 2 million jobs have been lost since Obama’s election in November and the unemployment rate is at a staggering 9.4%. What about the other millions of people whose jobs haven't been “saved” by Obama? The house of cards is falling.

But still, I want to know who is quantifying this. During the campaign, Obama promised to create or save anywhere from 2.5 million to 5 million new jobs (including "green" jobs). However, as expected, his rhetoric was very light on details. Even now with the proclamation of “saving” jobs, he’s still light on details. The perpetual campaign continues. As Mitch McConnell and others have observed, the economy would probably begin to recover organically if the government would just get out of the way. Another case of the cure being worse than the disease.

(Side note: I thought the vast majority these projects were “shovel-ready”: "It takes time to organize projects, to get the bids in, the funds out and the work started," said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.)

Green is the color of money And that’s the money that people are making off of poor schlubs who think they have to “go green” in everything they do. However, it does not appear as though going green is always the best option. It looks like in many cases in the US, mass transit fares worse than the automobile both in operation AND in construction emissions. Wow. Can’t imagine how that is setting with Mr. Gore.

But the larger implication is this…if they can’t get it right on a smaller scale dealing ONLY with transportation systems, how do they think there will be any possibility of accuracy on a national/industrial scale and how will it be measured? Once again, ideology trumps common sense as the left attempts to hurry through more taxes (cap and trade) and controls over YOUR life. After all, you’re not smart enough to know what’s good for you, right? One size fits all around here now. Do you think the people in rural Nebraska are keen on the idea of paying federal taxes from cap and trade to pay for the pollution generated from the major coastal cities? Doubtful.

The Military wins another battle against a fierce enemy The Supreme Court upheld the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. I think this is the appropriate decision. First of all, this is one thing that Clinton took heat for, but is turning out to be a good thing. Secondly, the last thing we need is a drop in morale because soldiers cannot trust or believe they can’t trust the man or woman fighting next to them. And finally, it does not matter what your sexual preference is if you can pick off a terrorist from 1000 yards.

The military is designed to fight external wars against common enemies of the country. It is not a place for fighting politically-driven ideological wars internally that ultimately benefit no one.

Anyone else sense the political winds are shifting? Rasmussen does.

07 June 2009

Politician Careers Win Again Over Education Accountability

The Louisiana School Board Association put on the full court press and helped to defeat four bills in the Louisiana legislature that would have dramatically changed the way school boards operate and make them more accountable for school improvement.

Once again, politicians and special-interest groups come out ahead. While the educational system continues to deteriorate (rot, is more like it), especially in Louisiana, politicians and school board members around the state can sleep easy knowing that their positions and supplemental income is protected. And to think, all it took was a little saber-rattling with legislators who feared their positions and supplemental income were also at stake with these bills.

So, instead of doing what's right, and taking the necessary steps to make school boards, systems, and teachers more accountable for the woeful performance of our underperforming students, they decided that having a little extra pocket money is worth the risk. This is shameful and disgusting and they wonder why people howl when property taxes are eyed for increases in funding to our education system which is in complete disarray.

As you'll often hear me say, we need to have voter-enforced term limits and give all elected offices the political enema they are so clearly in need of.

Conservatives Sweep Europe

Isn't it true that the fashion trends in Europe usually take a little time to get to America? Well, if this is what's coming, this is a trend we should be happy to follow in November of 2010. Conservative/Right groups are taking back power in countries all across Europe and putting a stop to this naked worldwide power grab by left-wing statists. My sense is that the same will happen here...

However, the real blessing is that the campaigns have become longer and more contentious. Predictably, when engaged in tough re-election battles, the incumbents will not want to be seen as blindly following a socialist agenda for fear of being painted as such during the campaign. As a result, it should have a slowing effect on legislation critical to Obama's agenda. He and his cronies know this and it's exactly why they are hell-bent on pushing through healthcare reform ASAP. If it lingers, it will die with the campaign, along with his agenda in November.

And with any luck, Obama will be left as a two-year lame duck.

06 June 2009

Quick Hits

Fatherhood.gov - Isn't it a stinging indictment of where we are as a nation when the government has to put up a website that seeks to educate men on how to be good fathers?

Sacrifice Fly - The Louisiana Senate voted NOT to cut salaries of public officials just in time to make the opening pitch of the LSU/Rice NCAA Super-Regional baseball game. I suppose the only sacrifice the legislators are interested in is one that scores a run.

An Even Harder Finger Wag Coming - Obama is planning to get firm with North Korea by taking a "very hard look" at his options. My guess is that by saying "very hard" he will have taken the finger wag a step further. Just words, Mr. President? We're still waiting...

On the lighter side...

Soldier of Tomorrow - Is it possible to give humans "superhero" capabilities? Raytheon thinks so. I saw this on Modern Marvels recently and it is fascinating.

Patch Adams meets Pro Sports - Perhaps this is the way a professional sports franchise OUGHT to be conceived and operated...

05 June 2009

Voting Rights 2009

Ace of Spades skewers the DOJ's reversal of Georgia's Voter ID laws. Here's an excerpt from the full article:

So to sum up the current administration's stand on voting rights...New Black Panthers wielding weapons at polling stations, no harm, no foul. Requiring voters to show ID (something you have to do to get into most state and federal buildings to name just two mundane activities)...not allowed. Good to know.

Fingers in the Dam

Well, it looks like our only option is to raise taxes.

Sure, we can implement a tax cut, but how are we going to pay for it?

These are common rationalizations that come out of Washington. Rarely do we hear anything that makes good fiscal sense come of discussions of government income/revenue and subsequent expenditures and outlays.

Here in Baton Rouge, the local suburb of Baker first raised teacher salaries, and then their school board suggested the only way they are going to be able to fund education is to max out property taxes, and now they're holding a job fair for all those teachers they raised the pay for. Is there ANY careful planning or thought going on around there? Sadly, this happens all across the country.

Right now, the US spends more per pupil and gets some of the worst results. Thanks NEA! But how do you dare vote against funding education? Demanding accountability from education is the new racism. If you vote against it, then you are against children getting a good education (never mind the disparate impact on minorities). But, no... What I’m against is funding a broken system that rewards unqualified teachers and unaccountable school boards all of whom are coddled by the unions who shakedown the governments – all the while our children STILL get a substandard public school education. Did I mention we spend more money per student and get some of the worst results?

Meanwhile, Louisiana is putting the weight of its budget woes on the backs of graduate students. Graduate students are often young professionals who are sacrificing current experience in pursuit of future rewards. By no means are they wealthy - otherwise, they wouldn't be going back to school. But with this tuition increase, it is reverse Robin Hood as well as a sure-fire way to discourage people from wanting to better their lot in life through advanced education. It will also force a continued brain-drain at that level on Louisiana. Just what this state needs...

Meanwhile, outside of education, the administration and Congress tells us that the Federal Highway Trust Fund will be insolvent in by August unless taxpayers pony up another $7 Billion. Really? Who knew? I’m shocked that this is JUST NOW being addressed a month and a half away. How did this get left out of the $787 Billion stimulus bill? Wasn't that for "shovel-ready" projects? (Side note: There's clearly enough that's shovel ready in DC...)

From what I can tell, all that decreased driving we were told to do is now having a negative impact on federal gas tax revenues. So, now they are talking about raising the federal gas tax anywhere from 15 to 40 cents PER GALLON. But once again, they expect us to pay for their mismanagement of our dollars. Oh, and we’re also being punished for trying to help out by driving less, you know, like they asked us to. (It’s for the environment…)

Now, the encephalitic Ben Bernanke comes along and says we need to start planning now for the increased revenues that will be needed to pay for all the spending that has been legislated by the bloated beast in DC. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that the Democrats were screaming about “unfunded mandates”? Well, now it’s apparently en vogue and they’re talking about more taxes, specifically the Euro-popular VAT, to cover new spending. If you don’t know what a VAT tax is, I suggest you read this, and this, think of the term “national sales tax” (in addition to your state and local) and gird your loins for sticker shock on just about anything that requires an exchange of money for goods or services. ANYTHING.

But so many of our trusted elected career cowards just go lazily along with palms facing upward and their “but what can we do?” attitude? Then they have the audacity to ask us to send them back to DC so they can work hard to fix the problems that THEY created. Insanity. But in the interim…

First, to look fiscally responsible, Obama instructed cabinet departments to cut $100 million. Insulting. WH Spokesman Robert Gibbs attempts to play up that $100 Million is a lot of money to the American people. Yes, especially when the proposal includes buying office supplies in bulk and government employees having to share printers. But let’s be certain to slash missile defense while North Korea continues its fireworks show for terrorists. Obama & Gibbs are magnanimously throwing out numbers that SOUND big, but in the scale of DC, are minuscule. The budget proposed is $3.67 Trillion… That’s a lot more zeroes – at least four more to be exact.

Next to build on these massive cuts, Obama & Democrats put forth another $17 billion in cuts, likely to confuse (or amuse) people. Whatever. Window dressing at best. In the same breath as these cuts, he offered up billions more in spending. Well, so long as he gets the media coverage for cutting spending, all the other stuff is meaningless. However, once again, both Obama and Gibbs tout that $17 billion is a lot of money to Americans. Hey guys, it’s less than half a percent of the monstrosity you want to spend. Get real.

Not to lose the mantle of fiscal responsibility, now the GOP offers its own menial cuts. Many of these cuts are from programs that are actually very good, but easy targets. Still a drop in the bucket. They’re just as lazy and guilty.

There is no serious interest in cutting bloated spending. None. This is why when a tax cut is actually proposed, politicians ask “How are we going to pay for it?” Remember that from earlier? That is just politi-speak for, “We can’t give money back to the tax payers or take less of their money unless we cut spending from some other program.” And given the fact that the government does not like to cut spending, they hide behind this “pay for it” semantic. Sickening, and yet, the voters buy it without even understanding or questioning it.

By stark contrast, you are expected to cut your spending because they need more of your money to pay for their lack of doing the same. Politicians think you are stupid. And by the looks of it, at least half of the country doesn’t mind that. But then again, only half of us pay any taxes anyways. That’s no way to sustain a country and certainly isn’t any way to expect a society and an economy to grow and flourish. As Churchill so wisely stated and is often quoted, “We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

Washington is reckless and more out of control than ever. The only solution is to end the circus and send the clowns back to their trailers. They are out of touch and only want to be well-positioned with the media as opposed to truly standing on principle. As Sean Hannity put forth this week, whether you agree with his politics or not, all politicians in DC have no backbone to stand up and do what’s right for America. They only value their political careers and focus on how to get re-elected instead of how to best serve the country.

We need to start a national movement for voter-enforced term limits. We will never get critical mass to amend the Constitution, but it is the best solution to the problems that plague our nation’s capital. To paraphrase Mitt Romney from the 2008 debates, “How can you expect to send the same people back to Washington just to sit in different chairs and expect different results?

Well America?

03 June 2009

The Irresponsibility of Piling Up Debt

Doug Ross takes aim at the Obama Adminstration's ignorant hypocrisy in admonishing GM for its irresponsible fiscal behavior, supposedly leading to their collapse... I think the parallel is clear as our government makes the same mistakes on a much larger scale and will likely bring our country to the same end result.

Cross what you can for a halt to this madness in 2010.

Analyzing the Intolerance of the "Tolerant"

Michelle Malkin and Caleb at Redstate.com have excellent articles exposing the hypocrisy of the Left in their hijacking of the concept of tolerance, selective outrage, and what is acceptable in terms of hate speech and actions for them, but not for anyone else...

02 June 2009

Why Confirmation Hearings Are Moot

In meeting with several high-ranking senators from the judicial committee today, Chairman Patrick Leahy said that Judge Sotomayor would, "follow the law no matter what their upbringing has been." In other words, she indicated that she would follow the law in deciding cases that come before her. Interesting. Well, of course she's going to say that now... what nominee seeking lifetime employment wouldn't?

Well, given that Judge Sotomayor's decisions have been overturned 60% of the time, and given the fact that she's been excoriated by her colleagues for decisions that have completely ignored precedent and related case law, I think she's got some explaining to do. But there's the problem...

First of all, neither Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich have directly called Ms. Sotomayor a racist. They have said that her statement about the "wise Latina" is racist and needs explaining, but no one to my knowledge has directly called her a "racist". Secondly, she has been quoted as saying that appellate courts are appropriate in "making policy". Oh, I'm sorry. I thought that was the Legislative branch of government's job - and last I checked, we had three equal branches of government when you include the Executive and Judicial... But never mind that pesky Constitution. It just gets in the way.

These confirmation hearings are mostly ridiculous - a farce at best. For the Democrats it's a chance to assassinate the character of a Republican nominee and a chance to ideologically promote a Democrat nominee. For the Republicans, it's a chance to appear to want to play fair with Democrat nominees and a chance to point out the obstruction of the Democrats when its a Republican nominee.

There is usually never anything of substance that comes from these hearings and any senator who has already made up their mind based on what information is available so far isn't likely to be persuaded otherwise. Thus, this is an exercise in futility. The GOP always caves and never plays hardball. The Democrats always block or promote by threatening to label Republicans in negative ways. Isn't that right, Senator Schumer?

Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed this Summer and she will enjoy all the accolades from the Left/Identity Politicians who will take all the credit for the first Hispanic on the SCOTUS. Truth be told, they opposed Bush's Hispanic nominees (like Miguel Estrada) simply because they did not want him to get credit for it. How's that for checks and balances?

Personally, I think the Republicans need to stop worrying about Judge Sotomayor's race and past statements so much. She is replacing another poor choice to begin with - so the balance of the court won't really change. Instead, they need to focus on the future and how she will be a judicial collaborator willing to advance the president's socialist agenda.

If Obama gets to nominate possibly two more justices (Kennedy & Ginsburg), then Sotomayor will be the first step in altering the political makeup of the court. Given that these are lifetime appointments, the Republicans needs to send a message loud and clear - and right now - that they will not tolerate extremists or activists on the court. Obama is using his popularity early in his term to get his way on virtually everything, but that may not last. So the GOP best take advantage to play hardball while its still early and in preparation of a backlash against his policies in 2010.

If the GOP can't do that now, then we need to send them home in 2010. What have we got to lose at this point if they aren't willing to fight on principle?

01 June 2009

Inside North Korea

This is a staggering photo essay of life inside North Korea. Check it out at www.foreignpolicy.com by clicking the link below...

Renowned documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve entered North Korea by posing as a businessman looking to open a chocolate factory. Despite 24-hour surveillance by North Korean minders, he took arresting photographs of Pyongyang and its people—images rarely captured and even more rarely distributed in the West. They show stark glimmers of everyday life in the world’s last gulag.

(hat tip: Doug Ross)

Quick Hits

Oil & Gas: Oil prices are up almost 60% this year. Here are some of the reasons/excuses:

(1) “It’s the summer driving season.” Yeah, yeah. We hear this every year. It’s a bogus excuse given the consistent reporting that Americans are driving less and less.

(2) “OPEC has cut back production.” Well, if you believe this, I’ll sell you a Dairy Queen in the Mohave desert. OPEC member country economies are wholly dependent on oil revenues. For them to actually cut back and sell less makes a bad economic situation even worse. Many countries agree to the cuts, which get publicized, and then they fail to recognize them, continuing to produce and sell as much oil as possible - which often goes unreported.

(3) “Refineries are switching to Summer blends.” The fact is that most refiners plan outages for changeovers in which products are produced well in advance. It’s not enough to say that mere changes in production schedules have a dramatic impact on prices.

So, why the dramatic increase in oil and prices at the pump? Well, it is often said that the two are directly related when it comes to increases. But then when there are decreases, there’s a “lag” in prices. Whatever.

Oil and gas price increases are being driven again by speculation – pure and simple. Why do I say this? Well, last summer, when oil prices were going up, it was primarily due to investors hedging their bets in a struggling stock market by getting into more stable commodities. Oil is a commodity of relatively consistent value. When the dollar is strong, people get into stocks. When it is weak, they look to oil because it is traded in US Dollars and that makes it less expensive and a good hedge.

This year is no different in that regard. However, the underlying reasons are much different. While the Obama administration may say that they do not look to the market for economic signals, they may want to start understanding the effects their regressive policies are having on consumers. We are borrowing money at record levels. We are spending staggering amounts of money we don’t have. As a result, Washington has cranked up the printing press to make more money available for it to spend. As a result, the dollar becomes less valuable because there are more of them floating around. It’s the basic tenet of supply and demand – and yes, it applies to currency. Thus, investors are looking for places to park their dollars for the most value. Hence, they get into oil contracts and gas futures… and we all pay for that security with higher prices driven by currency speculation, and not commodity market fundamentals.

So, when you are filling up your soon-to-be-abolished SUV, think of all the money the government is spending and therein you will find the culprit for this year’s oil and gas price spikes.

Baseball: Earlier this season, Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violation of the MLB drug policy. He was cited for taking a banned substance – HCG, a drug used to stimulate natural steroid production that is lowered when someone stops a course of steroids. Under baseball’s drug testing policy, the substance is banned. Ramirez and his doctor would know this if they just picked up the phone and played by the rules.

Well, good for baseball and sports in general. Let’s ensure that those who break the rules are held accountable… by allowing them to play in the All-Star Game.

WHAT?! Are you kidding me?! That’s right. MLB in its infinite wisdom appears ready to allow Ramirez to play in the All-Star Game. However, it must be pointed out that it is the moronic fans that are driving this charade. He should not even be on the ballot.

With this pitch, baseball has brushed back its drug policy and has hit a new low. I suppose with the bankruptcy of GM, all other traditional American institutions must also fail (That means you too, marriage!).

Side Note: I hope someone returns the favor of a 37-6 beatdown Florida State handed to Ohio State in the NCAA's yesterday. Running up the score was simply uncalled for and shows a complete lack of sportsmanship on the Seminoles part. With a 32-run lead in the 5th inning, unless the ball just goes out of the park, runners could be held, balls could be taken. This was another black eye to the unofficial farm system for MLB.

Now, for a sport with integrity…Hockey: The Dallas Stars are taking the right steps to right the once proud Stanley Cup champion organization. Upper management, having begun the process with shipping out notorious hockey moron and Vogue-intern Sean Avery, continued the cleanup by removing Brett Hull and Les Jackson as co-GM’s (a stupid concept in any sport above little league). They made the brilliant choice of replacing this brain-sharing duo with Joe Nieuwendyk as the new GM. Nieuwendyk is a three-time Stanley Cup champion as well as up-and-coming hockey executive. I think he will thrive in this role and will continue the positive changes within the Stars organization.