Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Plot Thickens

It is a statistical, historic fact that an incumbent President's party loses seats generally in the off-year election. That was seen very clearly in the Republican revolution of 1994 when just two years after Bill Clinton swept into the White House, both chambers of the legislature went heavily Republican. It occurred again in 2006 when George W. Bush's eroding popularity cost the GOP both houses, leading up to the 2008 election debacle that many viewed as the final stake in the heart of conservatism. Presidential coat-tails bump the party delegation and in off-year elections, the Presidential identification becomes a liability.

Well, we're coming upon an off-off-year election. It isn't even a congressional contest. This is just ten months after the Messiah, clad in immaculate toga and laurel wreath ascended the steps of the presidential mansion. The runes are saying that the collapse of the "hope and change" brigade is coming faster than anyone could imagine. Not only is the GOP not dead, more significantly the backlash against the party's drift away from pure conservatism is being reversed.

The Virginia governor's race is all but over. Democrat Creigh Deeds is declared DOA by the President himself, despite a half-hearted prop-up visit to the state last week. Done deal there.

The New Jersey governor contest is more complicated, but the message there is that if it weren't for a split of the vote between a Republican and a more conservative independent, the incumbent Democrat would be sleeping with the political fishes.

The emerging Cinderella story, however is New York's 23rd congressional district where a vacancy election is being held, necessitated by the appointment of the incumbent as Secretary of the Army. There the state rules are that a caucus of the party leadership appoints a candidate and no primary is held for the vacancy election. The Republican pary has received a slap-down of magnificent proportions as their choice has been spurned by both social and traditional conservatives.

The result has been essentially a three-way tie between a non-descript party loyalist Democrat, the Republican nominee in disfavor, and a surprise power demonstration of a conservative independent. Clearly the vote splitting is between the Republican and the conservative. Without that split, the Democrat loses handily.

This morning, from the newspaper of record within the district, we get this:

Dede Drops Da Bomb

In what clearly is a self-sacrifice rarely seen in modern American politics, the unpopular Scozzafava has dropped out and with that news, we should see a convincing victory by Hoffman to hold a Republican seat. The signal is that conservatism in the Ronald Reagan mold may still be very much alive even within the midst of a decidedly blue state.

To All Those Victims Out There


From the days when late night television had that something special:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Julius "The Juice" Caesar Commentaries

I can't let you miss this from Iowahawk:

Layin' It Down on Obamacus Rex

Leave it to the scribes.

Doctors Speak Out

I'm not going to read the 1990 pages of the House healthcare bill. Neither are your congresscritters. I'm confident that an army of low-paid drones are already poring through the document and latching on to sound-bites and spin-grips to shape public opinion pro and con.

What I am going to do, however, is offer you this collection of quotes from a number of highly qualified medical doctors on what the impact of big government is going to mean:

Mediocre Will Become the New Standard of Excellence

Anyone who hasn't learned the old maxim, "you get what you pay for" needs to take a crash course today. Quality costs more than inferiority. That's why a Porsche costs more than a Geo Metro. It's why a Rolex costs more than a Timex. It's why porterhouse costs more than chuck roast.

You also should recognize the fact that doctors don't come out of a cloning machine. They are human beings and they come in a wide variety of quality. Once upon a time long ago I was pressed into service as a pilot training instructor. I was naively convinced that because of my aviation superiority and my instructional skills that my students would be the best in the class. I soon learned that for any group of five students I was assigned there would typically be one really good pilot, two or three average and one or more in danger of washing out. Doctors come in the same range of quality.

Do you want any doctor when you are ill or do you want the best doctor you can find? Do you want to go to the metropolitan city hospital next to the soup kitchen or do you want to go to M.D. Anderson Cancer center? When you seek health insurance, do you want coverage generically or do you shop what is available and compare both costs and benefits? Do you want quality or do you just simply want a gray Mao suit?

How can anyone honestly believe what is being touted by the unresponsive, irresponsible, pandering, politicos in our Congress with regard to what they are doing?

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Accept that as immutable truth.

Got Your Costume Chosen?

If you haven't decided what you want to be tomorrow night, you might consider this classic:

Maybe that wouldn't be the best idea in some neighborhoods...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Less Style, More Substance Please

I can't come up with anything other than disgust about this:

The Midnight Photo-Op

I'm disgusted at the picture of this man trying to look military. I'm sorry, that is a biased cheap-shot, but it is what I feel.

I'm disgusted at the writing which pointedly mentions that George W. Bush met often with families of wounded warriors, "but never went to Dover to greet the remains..." That's right, he met with the families where he might offer some condolences and sympathy. He didn't publicize those meetings or pose for pictures with a flag-draped transfer case.

I'm disgusted at the suspicion that this is a culmination of long-range planning by the administration's ministry of propaganda. He suspended the no-pictures policy precisely, in my paranoid mind, to allow for this moment in the media.

I'm disgusted that more than a month after his hand-picked general has pointedly asked for the troops necessary to do the mission he was assigned, the Messiah is still waffling. I can only imagine what the feeling of troops in the field must be as they walk the battlefield under-manned waiting for the gathering of civilian advisors (no military leaders in the meetings) to determine if the political winds blow favorably for them to get the forces to do the job.

I'm simply disgusted.

Don't Ask Anyway

As soon as they finish nailing the coffin lid on national healthcare, it seems a sure thing that they will need to deal with another campaign promise. Of course that will necessitate some revision to the drill manuals, but it shouldn't be insurmountable what with the precedents that have already been established:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What am I, Chopped Liver?

It would be really difficult these days to try to be a humorist. I mean, there is simply so much competition out there that it would be impossible to get your laugh lines out in public. Once you could concentrate on doing a stand-up routine, or writing for a dedicated humor publication like National Lampoon or Mad magazine. You could aspire to write for Sid Ceasar or Milton Berle or Saturday Night Live. Now the market is filled with folks who keep us laughing and don't even tip us off before hand that they are in the funny business.

Take this speech from the newly appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. I'd think that it would be stodgy and sort of raised pinky cultured what with symphonies and marble statuary and oil paintings and performance art of religious icons in buckets of slop next to desecrated American flags. But, I'd be wrong. This is serious humor:

Art Will Save Us All

Doesn't that simply split your sides? Weren't you rolling on the floor at this:

This is the first president that actually writes his own books since Teddy Roosevelt and arguably the first to write them really well since Lincoln. If you accept the premise, and I do, that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, then Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar.

Like all humor we've got a shred of truth for an anchor. The incumbent President does have his name on two books. One his about his perfect father who abandoned him at age two and the other is Mein Kampf. Whoops. My bad. The other is Audacity of Hope which speaks of the struggle of his life as an affirmative action elitist in college. We assume that he wrote them because his name is on them. We can't really check them for style consistency because all of his other writing is unreleasable to the free world despite his having been editor of the Harvard Law Review. Unlike most professors of major universities, apparently he did not have to publish or perish.

And, of course we know that Julius Ceasar did write some of his own stuff. So, we've got humor. What is unanswered is what being a chief executive of a powerful nation has to do with the power of ones writing. I avoid the use of the term "leader" advisedly here.

But, the knee-slappers continue. Try this one:

And Chicago, Illinois? Don’t even get me started. Mayor Daley should be the number one hero to everyone in this country who cares about art because he was a visionary in this field before it was a field.

His work, I should add, began in 1989, 13 years before New York City’s great arts advocate, Mayor Bloomberg, was even elected. Daley spent public money to restore the old vaudeville houses in Chicago and created a bustling, downtown theater district, he built Millennium Park, with its dynamic arts installations, and connected it to the Art Institute of Chicago and now both are powerful attractions for Chicagoans and tourists. It sometimes seems like he has created an arts festival for every neighborhood in the city.

Mayor Daley may love art, but he’s a tough guy, and don’t think he’s not focused every day on the ledger of the city’s economy.

That's right, you fools! The Daley legacy in Chicago isn't about corruption, kick-backs, pay-offs and the murder-rate, it's about the cultural achievements of Da Mayor! He may be a tough guy, but he's got a heart of gold. And, he's so focussed on the city ledger that he knows who is making the pay-offs and who isn't without a second glance. If you don't pay, you don't play.

Why with Daley in Chicago and Obama in the White House, we're certainly in the midst of a grand renaissance that will put us right up there with Dubrovnic, Kabul and Harare.

If you don't think that Landesmann's speech is funny stuff, you don't have a sense of the ridiculous.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Insight Into Air War

Some things stand the test of time and this insightful article by Billy Beck certainly does that in spades. As someone in the profession, I've always taken great pride in doing a job that is a bit beyond what the common folk can aspire to, but I never viewed it as a "public good." Undeniably the defense of our society is certainly a requirement, but we don't think of the warrior in those terms. Yet, here we have it spelled out:

Esteem Well Earned

Rough men standing ready so progressives can sleep soundly in the comfort of their government sponsored beds under their minimally equivalent redistributed roofs...the Endarkenment proceeds apace.

The Warrior Song

I hope we get to hear a lot this:

Facts? Fooey! We've Got a Crisis!

They continually deny that they are socialists or, heaven forbid, communists. But if you listen to the rhetoric you can't miss the fueling of class envy and the demands for redistribution from those that have to those that need. Or, to paraphrase, "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs..." But we all know where that came from.

Let's start out with recognition that "need" shouldn't have a thing to do with it. This is particularly true if we let the needers do the definition of what they need. Ask your five year old what they need for Christmas and you'll understand what I mean.

Part and parcel of this hyperbole is the vilification of those who make a profit. Somehow we've got a population willing to suspend their understanding of what businesses do to succeed. There is nothing wrong with making a profit. If your business fails to make profits, you don't pay your employees, you don't get investors, you don't do any expansion or job creation, you don't pay your bills and you shut your doors to stop the bleeding. Unless, of course, the redistributors come to bail you out and then hold you in indentured servitude.

Read this tidbit on profits of healthcare insurance companies:

The Miniscule Nature of Obscenity in Profit

When the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate can characterize private health insurance providers as making obscene profit as bodies pile up you can only wonder what level of profit is allowable for a business in their wonderland. If 2.2% is obscene, how fractional does your margin have to get before it is permitted in the new utopia?

They want to manage healthcare with the same models of efficiency as we see in Medicare, except they will eliminate the best Medicare supplement plans. They want you to overlook the fact that their vaunted Medicare even needs supplement plans to keep you reasonably serviced. They want to do as well as they have on getting H1N1 vaccine to the public:

Should be Available Before the End of the Flu Season

Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius says we should see lot of flu vaccine available by mid-winter. Yet, a news item out yesterday was indicating that the swine flu "pandemic" may have already peaked for the season about a month before the usual winter flu season begins to roll. Yep, they've got a handle on things.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Can Read?

I tend to try to get something out of tables and statistics beyond the obvious. Looking at a listing or ranking based on some criterion, I'll often ask the tough questions about whether what I'm seeing is telling me something valid or not.

In my state government class the textbook bemoans the fact that Texas ranks in the bottom five states on per-capita expenditure for education. Oh, woe is us! But, does that tell us anything? Does spending more money per student make the education better? If so, then Washington DC or Chicago IL ought to be hot-beds of intellectual prodigies in their public schools. That isn't even close.

Or, can we compare costs of a school, staff, equipment, etc. in Texas with high cost-of-living areas like New York, Massachusetts or California? You would have to pay a teacher twice as much to live in those areas, hence costs of education are not going to be comparable.

Take a look at these numbers and see what you can deduce:

Declining Circulation Plagues Newspapers

Here's what I got out of that:

  1. The Wall Street Journal circulation is equal to the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times combined!
  2. Except for the WSJ, which has a statistically insignificant drop in circulation, all of the other papers with huge losses are liberal.
  3. My local, the Dallas Morning News, has lost nearly a quarter of their circulation during the reporting period which coincides with a 40% increase in subscription prices.
  4. Second to the WSJ is USA Today, a comic-book of a newspaper that features pictures and color rather than required reading.
  5. If the conservative vs liberal bias of the list holds true, more conservatives can read and are interested in what is going on.
  6. If the drops in all of those liberal newspapers are reflective of interest or involvement by ideology, the 2010 elections might be brighter than we have been hoping for.

Or, maybe the numbers are simply telling me that people don't like ink on their fingers and are getting their information online.

A Sampling

Is this being unfair?

I also recall the speech when he told us that "words have meaning"...I wonder what meaning he meant?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is There an Elephant in the Room?

We called it going downtown to see the elephant. It was a metaphor. There might have been an elephant or two downtown in Korat, after all it was Thailand and elephants are common. But it wasn't a pachyderm we were referring to, it was something entirely different. It was something inside that most folks never face, but when the elephant shows up you are changed forever afterward. Some won't see the elephant. They turn away. Some need a friend with which to see the elephant. Some see the elephant on their own or with the hand of their God grasped firmly. Some even leap forward aggressively, knowing the elephant is worth the viewing for some strange reason.

If you've seen the elephant you know what I'm talking about. Here are some men engaging the elephant. They are on both sides of the battle and there should be no doubt that the elephant is neither racist nor partisan. He's an equal opportunity elephant:

There are way too many people in this country who haven't seen the elephant. They've got themselves convinced that there is no elephant or that those who have seen the elephant are somehow inferior or thuggish or uncouth. They are, of course, wrong.

This would be a much better nation with a much brighter future if there were more people who had been to see the elephant.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trust But Verify

Coming home from the college yesterday I was listening to Rush and astonished, gratified, offended and a bit enraged all at the same time. The Rush-Rant of the day was the release of the first ten pages of the Messiah's Columbia University senior thesis to Time Magazine writer, Joel Klein.

The statements were outrageous and largely confirmed the decidedly poor opinion I've developed of the man and his motivations. I was going to post a blog piece on it after reading the full text. That's when suspicion crept in.

I easily found Klein online, but couldn't get any full copy of his article. Alarm bells. Some Google and Bing work got hits on some of the phrases that Rush had used but they were all bloggers and clearly all from one end of the political spectrum. (Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there is anything wrong with that.)

Today, we've got this:

Internet Hoaxes I Have Seen

Yep, just another piece of satire. It sounds so plausible and reinforces exactly what we know that it immediately is believable. Atlas Shrugs says he has said those things in other contexts, so there can be some credence given, but it wasn't a written article and wasn't exposed to Klein and it wasn't a university thesis.

What it was would seem to be a huge faux pas for Rush.

Which only raises the question once again: did the Bamster ever write a thesis? Is there some record of his work at Columbia and Harvard? What did he say and when did he say it?

That info would certainly put these satire pieces out of business, but it might be more damaging, heh?

ADDENDUM: Jumping In Pools Found to Be Source

48 Hours Into New Millenium

Once again we didn't melt-down. In fact, this earth-shaking event went by largely unnoticed despite attempts at hype which fell flat. I guess what was missing was Mick Jagger and the Aging Stones warbling, "Start Me Up."

That's right, I'm talking about the release and delivery on schedule of Windows 7. If nothing else, this comes as a landmark event because it happened on time and without a couple of months of delays for animosity to build. That alone ought to make it a success. There's also the very positive factor of PC Magazine's John Dvorak not liking it. Anything he hates is sure to be a winner!

Windows 7 a "Vista Martini"

What amazes me is that he gripes about how nobody from Microsoft seems to care about him and send personal PR releases directly. What part of "journalist" doesn't he understand? And, why would a company which you keep trashing over decades seek to help you out?

On a More Positive Note

Apparently the conclusion there is that for those of us happy with Vista (and surprisingly there are a lot of us, despite the propaganda), it doesn't make much sense to cough up the $120 for an upgrade. If you bought a PC during the summer with a free upgrade, they suggest you go for it. If you're still running XP, you've got a tough decision to make.

The XP problem is that for the first time an OS upgrade won't be simply plug-and-play but will require a "clean" installation. You'll basically have to give up all of your current installation and settings, install Windows 7 and then re-install all of your applications and configuration choices. Cumbersome, but it will give you a big performance boost as you'll wind up with a virginal registry. The whole process will kill a day of your time easily.

So, your choice becomes whether to upgrade to the new OS or finally buy a new computer. If your XP system is pre-Vista then you probably would benefit from the new hardware. If, on the other hand, you were one of those who exhibited the knee-jerk animosity to Vista and went searching for a new PC with the legacy XP operating system then possibly you are getting a bitch-slap from Microsoft.

Shopping Center for Win 7 Systems

Good news is that there will be a lot of buzz in the marketplace for Win 7 equipped machines and prices are pretty competitive.

If you choose the upgrade, here's some help:

Backup Before You Screw It Up

As for me, I'm ambivalent. I tend to be an early adopter when it comes to operating systems. It was a necessity when I was doing Ziff-Davis work for several years. The company required it and having the latest software and hardware was kind of neat--at least until Windows ME showed up.

I did wait a year for Vista after release, following the common wisdom that the best thing is wait for Service Pack I before upgrading. I took the opportunity to buy a new full-house system at that time. Vista runs well for me and the computer remains quite capable.

My guess is that if I really think about it for a while, I'll recognize that I don't need Win 7 yet. But, maybe I'll get a wild hair or see a deal I can't refuse and take the leap. I'm not driven yet.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Turn it up, wake the neighbors:

Friday, October 23, 2009

A New Era of Bipartisanship

"Politics ain't beanbag." It is a rough and tumble business and thin-skinned folks with fragile egos need not apply. But it also is not the mean streets where failure to note the graffiti can get you killed or resistance to paying a bit of tribute to the neighborhood capo might get your tires slashed, your windows broken or your arm twisted.

It is a business of governing in a civilized society and it should be conducted by educated man and women, fighting hard for what they believe in, but doing it with respect for their opponents and with civility.

The promise was that the "politics of personal destruction" so decried by the Clinton administration while simultaneously being practiced was going to become a thing of the past. We would be a post-racial society seeking "change we can believe in" with comity among the elected.

Yeah, right! And, I got some waterfront property I want to show you, just slip into these cement overshoes for a second.

Kim Strassel points out some lapses on the road to this new utopia:

Roadkill on the Highway to Healthcare

If the references to Malone shoot right by, then maybe you remember this:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just That Kind of Day

Sometimes it just feels like this groove:

Loose Cannons Sink Ships

The Founders had a lot of arguments when writing the Constitution about how much power this federal government they were creating should have. They were so worried about it that when it came time to get the document ratified they quickly added the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights.

They had listed powers for the federal government quite carefully. Things like raise an army, coin money, run a postal service and regulate commerce between the states. The fear was that the government would seize powers they didn't think it should have. That's the gist of the 9th and 10th amendments. The 9th specifies that there are other powers that might not have been specifically mentioned and if there are, the people would retain them. The 10th specifies that it is really the states delegating power to the federal level and retaining anything not delegated to that federal level. In short, limited government was the goal.

Now, we've got this:

The Czar Dictates and Industry Will Comply

Consider the implications. Sure, the knee jerk reaction is that when the government sends you all of your operating capital then they get to tell you how to run your business. There is also the inevitable appeal to class envy. "I make ten bucks an hour, why should that bozo get paid two million a year?"

The answer, of course, might be because "that bozo" has qualifications for a job that you don't. But, I digress.

The essential questions should be more about the limits of the Constitution. Should a government be bailing out businesses? Should the government be establishing an ownership interest? Should government, after intervening, be making political rather than business decisions on the management?

And, the most important one of all: if you cut a CEO's compensation by 90% will he/she stay at work? If you can't offer compensation at rates that are competitive in a free market because the government is imposing populist policies will you have management that is going to enable your company to succeed?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Old Men In Texas

We discussed respect yesterday and some of the comments didn't seem to understand what my point was. That's fine. Sometimes I realize I might not be making myself clear.

That triggered a recollection of Woodrow Call. Which led me to this. I feel that way sometimes myself, but it would probably take a full magazine to hit the glass:

An Inconvenient Truth

The concept is simple, pure Keynesian economics in action. Simply dump a lot of money into the economy and your pump is primed to produce a plethora of productivity. Well, at least conceptually that is the theory.

So, we declare an economic crisis. (See Emmanuel, Rahm, with regard to "don't let a good one go to waste.") Then we spend a trillion dollars we don't have on stuff we were doing very well without. That allows us to put up a lot of signs next to holes in the ground or torn up roads, saying "your grand-children's debt load at work".

The idea is that you fund all these projects with money you don't have and someone goes out and hires someone and buys them a shovel. Voila! A booming economy is created.

So, how is that working out? Here's a report, state-by-state:

Six Million Job Shortfall of Projections

That's right, boys and girls. Spend $800,000,000,000.00 and in the process have job losses in 49 out of 50 (or by Messiah-count, 57) states.

What to do? Well, this has worked out so well that as soon as they are done with screwing up healthcare and destroying industry with a Copenhagen treaty, we should be looking for another stimulus package to finish the job.

New Humor Site

We've had Laugh-In, then Monty Python and the persistent SNL, but now we find some really intense humor in a new location, the UN. This might be the generational equivalent to Mad Magazine or National Lampoon! We simply subscribe to the latest documents coming out of the United Nations and are insured daily laughs.

Today we've got this on counter-terrorism! I know, it doesn't sound like a war on terror, but you simply don't understand:

In case you weren't sure, human gender is "changeable over time and contexts," sex slaves must not be "stigmatized" for their work, and it's important to recognize the role of "transgender and intersex individuals as stakeholders" in counterterrorism policy.

Got that? RuPaul is a stakeholder in the War on Terror!

Here's more of this drivel:

The UN Has The Solution

Yes, the recommendation is "abandon the war paradigm"! The terrorists want to destroy your society, disrupt your world and kill you, but you can't simply go at this like a thug! What shall we do?

enshrine the principles of gender-equality and non-discrimination in the design and implementation of all counter-terrorism measures.

What the hell is this fool talking about?

There is no way we can rid the world of loons and weirdos. They will always walk among us. Usually we can spot them by their tin-foil hats and clothes-hanger antennae, but when we give them credibility and a platform with pretentions of seriousness we have gone too far.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story

It seems straight-forward enough. The year was 1970 and it was Vietnam near the Cambodian border. Captain John Poindexter was leading Troop A, 1st Sqdn of an armored cavalry regiment. A company of US infantry was being over-run and without hesitation he led his men to the rescue. It's strictly John Wayne stuff with M113s and helicopters.

His men deserved a number of decorations for their heroism and he submitted the recommendations. Like so much paperwork, it got lost. But Capt. Poindexter was not one to forget. He pursued the issue and finally it led to a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. His troopers were presented a Presidential Unit Citation by The One.

Here's Capt. Poindexter and the picture tells so much about the moment:

What sincerity we see on the face of the President as he looks into the face of a true warrior... He can't even take a second to look directly at the man. His concern is where is the door out of here. I've don't think I've seen such utter disdain for the moment since Bill Clinton expressing his abhorrence of the military.

A Bit of History Renewed

I mentioned the weekender to a fighter pilot reunion already. Many of us stayed at the Hangar Hotel at the Fredericksburg TX airport. It is an actual hangar from WW II days that has been rehabbed and fitted out as a very comfortable two story hotel. The place is decorated with a '40s aviation theme all the way down to vintage luggage in the corners, airplane pictures on the walls and a desk-clerk in airline pilot's shirt and pants.

When not exchanging fighter pilot exaggerations in the "Officer's Club", the aptly named hotel bar, I had a chance to roam the flightline and admire the state of the general aviation art. We've come a long way from the sort of stuff that filled the pavement at my local airport when I was learning to fly.

I was particularly stunned to see what I initially thought might be an old friend with a new coat. At first glance from a hundred yards away I thought it might be a J-3 Cub or maybe a PA-18 Super Cub. But when I got closer I saw something entirely different:

This is an entirely new aircraft. Metal fuselage and fabric wing. It's got flaps like a Super Cub and an electrical system so it has lights and radios, including GPS. It's got a 230 horse engine under that cowl instead of the four cylinder 65 hp Continental of the J-3. The interior is nicely upholstered instead of canvas rag seating and you would probably be comfortable for a couple of hour flight, which you could easily do with the wing fuel tanks instead of that ten gallon gas can that sat in front of the windscreen on the original Cubs. There's a fuel gauge too instead of a clothes hanger stuck in a cork and protruding from the gas cap.

In short it is an old pilot's dream and I want one. Santa Claus, are you listening? Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ronaldus Magnus 11th Commandment

To be effective, a political party must work as a team. That doesn't mean that one must be in robotic lock-step following a rigid ideology passed down from some messianic leader. It simply means that you all know which direction you would prefer to go, so when it comes time to push the ball no one from your party is pushing from the other side.

President Reagan often expressed it as the 11th Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Another Republican." I learned it many years ago in terms of "thou shalt not challenge an incumbent of your own party." If you wish to gain elected office, you can run where a vacancy occurs and compete vigorously. But what you don't do is challenge your own party incumbent when they are doing the job and virtually certain to be re-elected.

In Texas we are watching a violation of the basic rules. We've got a conservative Republican governor. He fought back a challenge from within his party last time when a maverick Republican state comptroller who had been a Democrat a few years earlier challenged him in the primary. When she lost, she declared herself an independent and challenged the governor in the general election where she lost again. End result was no great loss. She had no grounding in political ideology or party loyalty and voters figured that out.

This time around we've got US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison who after sixteen years in the Senate has decided to challenge Governor Rick Perry who has ten years in the governor's chair. He would be sure to be re-elected. Hutchison, as a senior incumbent senator would be sure to be re-elected. Why rock the boat?

The primary isn't until next spring, but already the posturing is going on. Hutchison claims Perry has been in office too long...lemme see sixteen is bigger or smaller than ten? She claims to identify more with Texas values, but she's been inside the fetid halls of Congress for nearly two decades, not in Texas. She doesn't look good in boots and she doesn't have a decent hat that I've seen. Dunno about cattle.

She claimed she would resign her seat "around November" but now realizes that would give Gov. Perry an appointment and would take her off a very well connected podium for national news-making. So, she waffles and may not resign so soon. But that disadvantages Texas Republicans in terms of retaining the seat for the party by delaying a stump for potential replacements to mount a campaign for senate.

Meanwhile both Hutchison and Perry must inevitably throw brickbats at each other to make primary election points. What should Democrats do but simply sit back and take notes to fill their speeches during the run-up to the general election.

I've got no great preference for either one at this point beyond understanding that both offices are secure if she had left well enough alone. Now, she jeopardizes the Senate seat and attacks the current governor, arming the opposition and thereby jeopardizing the governorship. That swings the balance in my mind.

The only conclusion I can draw is that Hutchison is driven by sheer ego. She is no longer on the majority team in the Senate, so despite her seniority she has lost stature. Therefore she seeks a new platform and in the process places herself above the good of the party.

Meanwhile, previously independent candidate Kinky Friedman has launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor:

This is going to be fun!

The Echoes of "Duh!"

The concept of insurance is so simple. You join a group and pitch in some money. The idea is that if something bad happens to you there would be difficulty paying the costs. But the probability is fairly low that it will happen. Obviously it will happen to someone at some time, but if everyone contributes to the pool when the bad thing comes to one person, the pool will cover the cost.

No pool? No coverage! High risk of many members having the problem? High cost! That's Insurance 101.

These are reasons why Medicare has everyone who works pay into a mechanism which will provide healthcare payments for those over 65. Lots of payers, relatively few recipients. There are also reasons why rational insurance companies try to reduce risk in their pool by not accepting folks with pre-existing conditions. If you try to buy medical insurance when you've got Stage III lymphoma, you probably will cost them a lot of money.

Why then is this a surprise:

Colorado Insurers Say This Will Hurt!

Yet, despite the utter simplicity of the concepts, we still have folks who don't get it. In case you were already gagging and couldn't read through to the last paragraphs of that piece, here they are:

Despite conflicting analysis on whether the current proposal would cut health care costs, Arvada resident Peggy Woodward is confident it would save her money.

Woodward, who was laid off from her telecommunications job a year ago, is about to cancel her health insurance because she can't afford the $223 monthly premium. Under the legislation, she would qualify for a subsidy of about $2,000 per year.

"That's a very significant savings for me," she said. "I do hope they pass it just as soon as possible."

First, I would have to ask why the Denver Post saw fit to ask Peggy Woodward about this? What is her expertise? Why does her opinion have relevance?

Second, notice that discussion of actual cost of a product (healthcare) is not part of her math. She can't afford $223/month. So what? The "legislation" which hasn't been written yet has her believing she would qualify for a subsidy of $2000/year. How does she divine that? Does her "qualifying" require her to still be laid off? No info given.

Third, who really cares if "that's very significant" to her and what she hopes...oh, that's it. She "hopes" for "change" she can believe in! And Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and free cake and balloons for every one.

I guess the Denver Post considers Peggy a counter-balance to the executives of the insurance industry who are encumbered by facts and a bottom line.

Fair and balanced!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back Country Week-end

Yeah, I was on the road this week-end. Had a gathering of a 100 of my closest friends--mostly fighter pilots, and a couple of bikers in a countryside populated by real folks with a heavy coat of cowboy on them. It was at a wide spot in the road about 35 miles north of Lukenbach, Texas. The only difference was that we are the kind of guys who actually can get the roof blown off of the party with a couple of vintage O-1E four-ship fly-bys and a L-29 jet laying down a couple of impressive passes:

No jail breaks or emergency recoveries were required:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Surrealistic TV

Yesterday we were entertained for a couple of hours by a home-made flying saucer drifting across the Colorado landscape while bumbling Barney Fifes scrambled along back roads trying to keep it in sight and then mucking through a dusty farm field trying to grab ropes to hold it down once it settled. The drama was enhanced by the story of a six-year old aboard the cargo box and in mortal danger. Wow, better than the OJ Simpson slow-speed chase! Hundreds of cops, a handful of police and military helicopters, and even a closure of Denver International Airport. This is huge!

The reality balloon deflated more rapidly than the helium saucer when the boy wasn't aboard. Within minutes he was "discovered" by the parents hiding in the garage rafters of his home. Case solved. Boy saved. Mandatory press conference to milk the maximum coverage called.

There they are, arrayed before the camera, mom, pop and three mop-heads. With a bit more journalistic enthusiasm for tough questions than the typical White House press briefing the father was quickly being skewered with questions about how this all came to pass. Why was he building such a contraption? Not that there's anything illegal about that, but what motivates such an endeavor? Where do you go in your neighborhood to buy a couple of hundred cubic feet of helium and a hundred square yards of Mylar? Does Home Depot carry that sort of thing?

Hoax came up rapidly and daddy took umbrage! Outrageous!

But wait, there's more:

The History of Wife Swap Reality TV

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story. There is a long history here and the lure of the limelight seems to have been very active in the background of how a boy becomes fictitiously trapped in a weirdo storm-tracking backyard balloon project.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Candyman Can

What is so difficult to understand about cost-of-living adjustments, COLA? The concept is pretty simple. We like a reasonable and slow growth of our economy, so it is generally acceptable to have a small increment of annual inflation. Prices go up, but not too much. For most folks, still in the work force, there is advancement, tenure increases, maybe negotiated wage increases or maybe even job changes. But for retirees whose income is fixed there is a danger that over ten, fifteen or twenty years, a reasonable retirement could erode to a pittance and you would be unable to afford the essentials. That's where a COLA comes in.

But a COLA is not a raise. It is merely an adjustment to keep your buying power constant in a changing economy. Historically costs of living have risen over the last fifty years. The variance has largely been between some, more and lots of increase in costs. Maybe the best way to think of it that you don't receive a Social Security check each month, you receive a bag of groceries. With COLA, you get the same bag next year and the year after. You don't get more groceries, and when you get an annual COLA you aren't supposed to get more pay.

This isn't rocket science here. Now, what happened last year? We entered a deep recession. Housing values dropped. Stock prices dropped. Gas prices dropped. Holy contraction, Batman, that must mean cost-of-living went down! Yes, Robin, it does. But does that mean my kindly old grandmother won't be getting a raise in her Social Security check in January? Sure it does. But remember she will have the same buying power because of lower costs.

The law has kicked in. The COLA adjustment has been announced for next year. Remember, there is never logic in law, there is only politicians handing stuff out to voters. While COLA can increase if costs rise, the good congress-critters have ruled out reduction in payments if costs decline.

Yet, even though the rules are the rules, in this world of bread-and-circuses the party of the people seeks to continue to play Santa Claus even from a threadbare toy-sack:

Let's Stage the Battle of Carthage This Week

The Messiah's favorables are declining, so what can he do? Why he will do what he has always done. He will hand out candy and favors. No COLA because no increase in costs? No problem. Simply dispense a check anyway.

"What do you think it will take for them to like me, Rahm?"

"I dunno boss. They're stupid old folks, just give'em a couple hundred."

"Where's it come from, Rahm?"

"We'll write some stuff into the healthcare bill, they'll pay for it out of Medicare co-pays next year, so it doesn't cost a cent."

"OK, let's announce it!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sausage Being Made

The cliche is that you wouldn't want to watch either sausage or law being made. It isn't a pretty process, but in a representative republic the process with all of its ugliness should be open to public scrutiny.

But, now we've got this:

Resolving the Two Non-Bills Behind Closed Doors

The US Senate has moved two "conceptual" bills out of committees. They are two entirely different concepts and neither of them is bipartisan in the slightest. They may or may not include a public healthcare option. They may or may not insure about 15 million of the currently uninsured 35 or maybe 46 million uninsured. They may or may not be funded by fictitious savings. They WILL raise taxes incredibly on anyone who currently has healthcare coverage, including the naive unions that supported the Messiah's election.

How will these two concepts become an actual legislative proposal? Funny you should ask. The stitching together will take place in a closed room without public observation of the process and hence no opportunity to weigh in with what "we-the-people" would actually prefer.

But, as they say in the Ginzu commercial, "wait, there's more!"

There are three conceptual proposals in the House of Representatives. These rag-tag bundles of legislative offal are going into a similar closed door packing plant where again the democracy will not be heard. Could this be an attempt to provide maximum cover for these bottom suckers seeking re-election next year? Support the Speaker now and deny your butt off next summer on the campaign trail.

Finally, the two non-democracy, un-representative bills will be merged in a conference committee, where behind closed doors the sausage links will be finally joined. Where do we get a chance to participate in the political process?

More importantly, what are we going to be doing when we are being force-fed this product which we recognize as filled with very unappetizing components? I don't want to partake of this meal. I don't want a bite, a taste, or even a sniff. I plan to boycott the butcher and stay away from the table.

It's a shame. I've always loved sausage in the past.

Gen Ripper--a Call For You

I know he was nuttier than a box of Cracker Jack, but he still had a bit of wisdom about dealing with world issues. It might have been black comedy in the early '60s, but in today's world, we might need someone like General Jack D. Ripper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Example of Tax Dollars at Work

My wife is a licensed and certified speech therapist. She works for an educational co-operative that provides specialists to a number of independent school districts in the county. In the process she deals with children who have a broad range of communication disorders and a huge spectrum of service requirements. They come from diverse backgrounds and this nation being what it is, we've convoluted the funding process from the very simple concept of local school districts funded by local property taxes to a very complex mix of money sources.

In Texas more than half of local school funds come from the state currently. There is also a chunk of federal money, but it isn't proportionate to the level of federal interference in public education. That however, is a topic for another time.

The special services in public schools, things such as speech therapy, special education, physical therapy, and others are funded in part by Medicaid. Here's where it gets to be fun.

To qualify for those Medicaid dollars, our leaders have instituted a convoluted process to insure that only those who are "qualified" get the services. That means a ton of paperwork to get a student eligible and then continued documentation to be certain the Medicaid recipients are receiving services. That makes sense at least at some level.

But now there is this, the Random Moment Time Survey. A private agency is hired to conduct random moment surveys of what a teacher who might or might not be providing Medicaid services is doing at that moment. Sort of a "pop-in-the-door" event to check on activity. How is this done?

She receives an email a week or ten days prior saying she must login and respond to the Random Moment Time Survey online at 9:50 AM on Tuesday, October 13th! Whoa! That is no longer a "random moment" in time! It is a scheduled event. How would you do that?

Well, I would enter the appointment in Outlook, of course. Then at the time I could login and answer the three-question survey. But, my activity then would, by default, be logging in and answering the bloody survey!

I inquired whether she might actually list the work that she would be doing if she were not taking time to complete the bureaucratic circle. Could she, for example, say canceling therapy for a student, preparing for an evaluation conference, attempting to contact a half-dozen participants in a planning meeting, trying to get a teacher to remember that a student needs appropriate instruction for their problem, and emailing a parent for approval to evaluate their child. Oh, and seeking time to complete Medicaid paperwork regarding therapy that had to be cancelled for all of the other paperwork the government requires.

The answer was that couldn't be the response even if true. Responses had to be properly phrased and formatted to be accepted by the survey. In other words the non-random, not-what-I'm-really-doing, work interrupting survey required only answers which met their approval. And, nobody is going to read them anyway. Failure to play the game, however, will result in loss of Medicaid funds for your district.

So, what do you think they are really learning? Can't you just wait for national healthcare?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Educate the Educators

A dozen years ago it was a well-intentioned stupidity. Schools sought to take control of deteriorating conditions by instituting "zero-tolerance" policies. Worried about kids doing drugs on school grounds? Then zero-tolerance on pills of any kind. Teachers won't have to make decisions about whether the little white thing is an aspirin, an upper, a tranq, a prescription or a Tic-Tac.

Feeling a bit insecure about guns? Can't distinguish between a broom-stick held to the shoulder and an M4 carbine? Zero tolerance is your answer for ignorance. Knife? Nunchuku? How about figuring out how small a Claymore can be? Is it a landmine or a medieval Scottish weapon. Makes no difference if we are employing zero tolerance. Thumb up and forefinger extended while going "bang-bang"--suspension for you!

The problem is that school teachers are supposed to be educated people. They are supposed to be graduates of college. They are supposed to be capable of exercising judgment. How can they teach the next generation to exercise judgment if they have none of their own?

Repeatedly the ZT policies have been headlined and inevitably ridiculed as the limp wrists try to justify their indecisiveness. Here is yet another:

Clearly a Danger to Society

The young man is thrilled to be a scout. He's going to learn camping skills and he brings his "spork" to school to eat his lunch. What mayhem could he wreak throughout the system armed with dining utensils?

Notice the language of the bureaucrat in that item.

"At this time, the Student Code of Conduct does not take into consideration a child's age in a Level three offense," the statement read.

I can only wonder if a "level three" offense is worse or better than levels one and two. Is this like manslaughter compared to murder one?

Christina School District in Newark, Del., has suspended the first grader and ordered him to attend the district's reform school for 45 days.

That's right, this six-year-old is now sentenced to forty-five days in District Reform School! He can only come out of such an experience a hardened criminal for the rest of his life, trained in the ways of locker thieves, marker bandits, paper snitchers, and playground bullies.

There's more detail on this frightening story in the New York Times:

This Situation Could Easily Escalate

There we learn that this extends far beyond the Christina School District. It is state law! Yes, indeed, folks. This is serious:

The law was introduced after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake to school, along with a knife to cut it. The teacher called the principal — but not before using the knife to cut and serve the cake.

I guess we've got to at least give that teacher credit for having enough judgment to cut the cake before calling the principal.

What limits are there to this absurdity?

Dogs of War

Fighter pilots are crude, rude, arrogant and obnoxious. So, what's my point? Don't click on the flick if you would be offended:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fixing By Breaking It

If you want to have an effective military you must have training, discipline, respect, dedication and strength. You must never forget why a military exists. It is to defend the nation and protect the people from external aggression.

If you can achieve those goals without imposing harsh restrictions on the citizenry, so much the better. A volunteer force is better than a conscripted one. People that want to serve coming from a society which respects such service will give you a powerful force achieved with little disruption. Technology of warfare has evolved to the point that any proposals to return to a drafted military are ludicrous to those who know what the state of the art is today. You don't mass infantry in Flanders' fields to charge from the trenches each morning at 5:00 AM. You need willing, intelligent, trained technicians who take pride in their profession and expect that you will not place them in harm's way unnecessarily. When it is necessary, they will give their life for their comrades and their country.

What a military isn't, is a social science lab. It isn't about egalitarianism. It isn't about social engineering. It isn't about gender equity or affirmative action, and it certainly shouldn't be about gay rights. Yet, the Messiah, who is all things in promise to all people, is picking at the scab of his Democratic predecessor, the policy of "don't ask, don't tell."

Gays March For Right to Mince

Bill Clinton sought votes by promising a relief from the military policy of separating actively open homosexuals from the service. The policy had a sound basis unrelated to morality, yet the issue was raised to an accusation of outright bigotry and prejudice. The arguments for revision to the policy were emotional, compelling, and largely ungrounded in understanding of the issues.

Clinton's solution was "don't ask, don't tell." In a nutshell, it prohibited the military from specifically asking the question of a military member regarding their sexual orientation. It specifically directed military members to not flaunt their sexual predilections openly. If we don't ask you which way you run, please don't tell us. You then serve by being discreet.

I knew several folks during my military tenure who were gay. They weren't Barney Frank or Liberace. They didn't lisp, prance, cross-dress, or hit on their co-workers. In other words they did their jobs with professionalism and met the same standards of behavior that all of us flaming heterosexuals did.

There were some fighter pilots, even ones that I flew with in combat. There were some support troops and at least one general officer. There was a Thunderbird! When I asked a friend who was on the team with him whether they knew, he said that "the secretaries told us..." Of course! A single Thunderbird would be a hot catch for a secretary but when a few of them were rebuffed, they figured the situation out.

Now the Bamster is promising to remove the "don't ask, don't tell" limitations. What does that accomplish? Does that mean that now individuals can openly flaunt their sexual activities? Will heterosexuals be able to as well?

Let's be clear in this. The issue isn't about disruption in the shower or latrine. It isn't about proximity in a barracks, foxhole or submarine. It isn't about sexual harrassment in the workplace which is already prohibited.

The issue is about leadership.

The military requires a hierarchy of command. All individuals are subject to an "up or out" policy in which you must continually earn promotions as your length of service and experience build over time. You must assume leadership roles and that is about more than pinning on a new insignia or sewing on more stripes.

We still live in a society in which homosexual behavior is viewed as unacceptable by a large number of people. Whether they take that view based on moral values or physiological ignorance is irrelevant here. What is unavoidable is that the military draws from the society at large which means that a large number of the military view the behavior as aberrant. The result is that an open homosexual will not have the respect of those which he/she is required to lead, discipline and motivate.

The President is promising an action which he views as politically expedient. It responds to demands of a segment of his constituency. It will do little with regard to changing societal viewpoints, but it can do significant damage to the morale and structure of our military.

One needs to ask the tough questions here and examine the costs versus the benefits of such an action. What good can come of it?

We Fixed It!

Remember global warming? The "Inconvenient Truth"? Remember how it morphed into "global climate change" so that the inconvenience of climate cycles which have been occurring for thousands of years could be explained? Remember how science by "consensus" was touted as the final truth--sort of like the sun revolving around the earth and the flatness of earth? A large glass of hemlock over here for the nay-sayers who dare to challenge the consensus.

It's the Sun and the Sea

Last night a National League playoff game got snowed out in Denver. That's not league championship or World Series, they are still two weeks away. The "boys of summer" couldn't shovel the white stuff off the field. The forecast was for the earliest recorded measurable snowfall in Chicago-bama this morning. Across the country the temps are at near record lows from the cold front that swept down on Friday, but a glance at the national weather map will reveal a second mass of arctic air is due to arrive this afternoon.

Could the man who invented the Internet be wrong on all of this? Doesn't his Academy Award and Nobel Peace Prize give him credibility? Oh, Polanski? Oh, the aspirational "hope and change" Nobel? Never mind. Well, still, he has been on the forefront of dismantling our economy by shifting us from carbon based fuels to wind and sunshine. Taxing our exhalations is the core of his dream of the future. He went to Wisconsin yesterday, and anyone who has ever visited Madison knows it ranks right up there as Berkeley Mid-West:

Have You Noticed a Chill in the Air?

Wow, college students and business leaders assembled in the streets and questioning what they see and read versus what Al Gore is selling! And, isn't that quaint, he takes a handful of questions and when one is "inconvenient" his minions cut off the reporter's microphone. You must believe or you will be struck dumb.

The maxim of "follow the money" applies on climate policy as well. Who has deep pockets, great commitment to liberal causes, an intense desire to see the nation under his control and a profit motive from getting the political ducks lined up in his row? Why George Soros, of course:

It Isn't a Science Issue, It Is Political!

At least he is up-front about admitting that it isn't science but an issue embedded in the kick-backs, stake-holders and profiteers of the political arena. He also 'fesses up that he's out to make a profit out of all of this hysteria.

My energy is being dissipated. I've begun to wonder what I will die defending in this Brave New World. Will it be my car, my lights, my heat/air-conditioning, my fatty foods, my choice in alcohol, my guns, my retirement, my doctor or the air I breathe. Increasingly we are surrounded by the drones of this oppression. I don't know what it will be, but I do know that they will pay a price for trying to take if from me. I will go down fighting. I must. There can be no other way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Barney Frank as Sam Spade?

When you catch a line like this it has to be linked:

"Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you something, commissioner," I said, my blood rising to a slow boil. "I may have taken more balls to the chin than Minnie Minoso, but we both know I'm still the best goddamn forensic political vaginologist on the entire force.

Iowahawk takes Sam Spade and Mickey Spillane to a whole new level in a modern noir political commentary that may make "Private Dick" a totally unacceptable pun at the NC-17 level

Breaking Open the Palin Caper

C'mon, tell me you didn't laugh.

Saturday Morning Rocker

An opera in one act--hormones, love, sex, regret, tragedy and deep remorse, plus Peewee Reese play-by-play!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sick Joke

When Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, I could only shake my head and ask incredulously how hysterically hyping global warming had even the remotest relationship to fostering world peace. If he had been given the prize for science, I could have challenged his credentials or qualifications or research or findings (if there were some.) But as a Peace Prize, I could only note that it seemed that there was absolutely no anchor to anything for the recognition.

I looked back and recalled when two terrorist bombers shared the prize. They had fought on opposite sides, but both had been true terrorists, planting bombs and killing innocents in their respective causes. They had matured into political leaders and by coming together under the auspices of Jimmy Carter, the stage was set for Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to share the prize. Strange bed-fellows indeed.

Nobel Peace recognition for Yasser Arafat put it in a whole new league. But now we've got the prize awarded for potential rather than any achievement at all. With nominations submitted a mere eleven days into his Presidency, the deliberations of the Nobel committee seem to have overlooked the disasterous intervening eight months.

Read here what the Brits say and be sure to watch the video:

An Absurd Decision

I suppose Neville Chamberlain would have been a shoo-in. Quizling might have been a perfect choice as well, but they probably feared accusations of home-town favoritism.

This increasingly is life as farce.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Comprehensive Plan

A couple of short years ago John McCain teamed up with an unlikely ally, Ted Kennedy, to put forward a comprehensive plan for immigration reform. Any rational person (I'm not postulating that there were rational folks involved in Washington) would have to admit that dealing with illegal immigrants is a complex question.

We know they are here, we might wish they weren't. They have an economic impact, both positive and negative. We need to secure our borders at least against terrorism. We don't know who is here illegally, we don't know where they are, we don't know where they came from and it is virtually impossible to round them up and send them back. The solution was a comprehensive plan...which went nowhere.

The problem was very apparent. While a comprehensive plan should have something for everyone to love and therefore easily leap the legislative hurdles, the reality is that comprehensive plans offer something for everyone to hate. They are so complex that no one ever reads them and the debate devolves into sound-biting and scapegoating. Registration becomes punitive. A citizenship path becomes amnesty. Work visas become a criminalization. Language requirements become jingoism. In the end nothing happens.

Yet, the congress-critters can't resist comprehensive solutions or at least attempts at solutions. One possible reason is that within a comprehensive bill you can hide an awful lot of pork. You collect votes like Brer Rabbit collected adherents to the tar baby. Someone doesn't like the bill so you throw in a sweetener for their district. Inevitably comprehensive bills lumber along and either fail, as the immigration reform did, or get convuluted into incomprehensibility as the healthcare reform apparently will. Immigration followed the Hippocratic principle of "first do no harm" because it didn't pass. Healthcare will, to all appearances, violate the oath in spades.

If you've got good care, you'll see it screwed up. If you've got employer benefits, you'll see a huge tax increase. If you don't have care and depend upon emergency room visits, you'll find yourself with less access and more expense. If you're a doctor you may give up the profession. If you're in healthcare support such as insurance, pharmacy, or medical equipment you will see your paperwork go up and your profits erode.

Are there problems with healthcare in the US? Of course. Fourteen percent of Americans aren't covered, but that means that 86% ARE! Is our healthcare expensive? Yes, but the quality is better than most of the rest of the world. Is comprehensive legislation the answer? Absolutely not.

If you are deeply conflicted about possible outcomes of a major move, doesn't it make sense to approach things incrementally? Why are the legislators so reluctant to take a bit-by-bit approach?

Possible the two most productive and sensible steps toward improvement are tort reform to reduce requirements for exorbitant malpractice insurance for doctors and elimination of restrictions on interstate sale of medical insurance. Stop frivolous malpractice suits and outrageous lawsuit awards. Foster competition to provide quality insurance regardless of which state a company is headquartered in and which state a client resides in. These two small steps might represent a giant leap for healthcare reform.

Here is my comprehensive plan:
  1. Abandon comprehensive plans
  2. Identify single problems
  3. Correct those issues in brief legislation
  4. Read what you've proposed
  5. Listen to the public
  6. Restrict bills to single subjects
  7. Disallow riders or amendments which spend tax dollars unrelated to the bill
  8. Subject yourself to the laws you impose on citizens.

Now, isn't that simple?

Not Tactically Sound, But Who Cares!

Fighters don't go anywhere single-ship and air combat today is not very much about close-in turning and burning. But, the agility to do those things is still very basic to the success of an aircraft. This video simply makes my hair hurt!

What you see is control in all flight regimes, engine reliability at extreme angles of attack, stability in what should be out-of-control situations, and the greatest carnival ride on the planet!

Free Money

OK, some days you think I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I'll admit that there are a lot of things that I don't understand, but this item really confuses me. How can something that is going to cost $829 BILLION be deficit neutral? How can you spend nearly a trillion dollars and not have it impact the budget?

CBO Report Shows Health Bill Fulfills Messiah Promise

Is that not real money? Where does it come from? What sort of legerdemain does it take to get that pile of cash to then provide more and better health care for more people at no cost? Is He really keeping his promise?

Oh, here's a tidbit:

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said he was worried that insurers and other health care companies would pass the cost of new fees and taxes on to consumers.

Do ya think? Government is going to "give" to us by charging insurers and healthcare companies! And someone honestly thinks that they will simply carve out a pound or so of flesh and smile? Of course it will be passed to consumers.

But, Grassley goes on:

And he said the bill's expansion of Medicaid would leave a new set of "unfunded mandates" for states already struggling with record budget deficits.

If the federal government spends the state's money, does it not still come from tax-payers pockets? And, by the way, how are those states doing, budget-wise?

Here is some real fiscal magic:

The $829 billion price tag would be more than offset by reducing spending on Medicare and other federal health programs by about $400 billion over the next decade, and by imposing a series of fees on insurance companies, drug makers, medical device manufacturers and other sectors of the health industry that stand to gain millions of new customers under the legislation.

My math is a bit out-dated but how is $829 billion "more than offset" by $400 billion? I'm not a business major either, but if you facilitate "new customers" but impose a "series of fees" on insurance providers, drug makers, medical device builders and "other sectors" the profits are absorbed by, you guessed it, the federal bureaucracy. Amazing!

And, here's a neat little economic stimulus plan for the recession:

In addition, the package would raise another $200 billion by levying a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance policies – the so-called Cadillac plans that cost more than $8,000 for individuals or $21,000 for a family.

Who is going to evaluate how much your healthcare plan is worth? It won't be you or your employer. And, don't you just love a 40% excise tax? What a second, aren't these going to be a lot of those 95% of American wage earners who won't see their taxes go up? There's that math thing $8,000 healthcare plan is going to nail me for an additional $3200 a year making the net cost to me and my employer $11,200. That should encourage a lot of companies to produce more and better benefit packages shouldn't it? How's that looking to the United Auto Workers now?

Somewhere there is a huge constituency of really ignorant people who are going to suck this up big time. Oh yeah, what a bargain!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Question; A Poll; A Thought-Provoker

Who was the greatest movie actor you ever saw and in what role?

Was it Brando's Godfather, or maybe his Stanley Kowalski? How about Russell Crowe's Gladiator? Do you lean toward George C. Scott's Patton? Maybe it was the spaghetti western period of Clint Eastwood or his Dirty Harry? De Niro might tickle your fancy or Pacino's Scarface or Scent of a Woman. Michael Caine comes back to me again and again. Robert Duval declaring the beach "safe for surfing" wasn't bad, but put him with Caine in Second-Hand Lions and you've got greatness.

But, consider this fellow having a mash-up conversation with himself:

Those were a pair of great flicks and I think I know what I'll do tonight after dinner.

Who's your favorite?

War is an Ugly Thing

It is a situation that simply begs for cliches. The administration's policy waltz on Afghanistan is becoming a parody. "War is too important to be left to the generals..." Nope. It is too important for the generals to be ignored.

"Those who will not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them..." That seems a bit closer. It is possible to make a case for the gradualism that plagued the Vietnam War. We don't like to admit it, but in the context of the time there can be some rationale. We lived in an era of bipolar nuclear deterrence. The nuclear age was thrust upon us in 1945 and within less than 20 years we were grappling with how to oppose the spread of communism without invoking a full scale confrontation with the sources of that spread. Gradualism seemed like it might be a way to build a capitalist democracy and yet not expand the conflict to a point which would be beyond our control.

We learned that we could indeed wage a limited war and keep it within conventional limits. But, we also learned that we couldn't win it, we could expend a lot of lives, we could shatter the fabric of our society and in the aftermath millions would die in Southeast Asia. Gradualism is very expensive and inevitably a failure.

Today we've got several generations who have benefited from the sacrifices of the "Greatest Generation", the strong and patriotic people who sacrificed so much to win World War II. These succeeding generations don't serve, don't sacrifice and don't really buy into the inconvenience of commitment to a cause, noble or otherwise. They put magnetic ribbon stickers on their car and mistake it for patriotism. The wear a flag in their lapel and call it national pride. They want conflict resolved at the end of a TV season of "24".

Although few Americans can say that they are directly impacted by the confict in Iraq, they became disenchanted with delay in the outcome. Candidate Obama appealed to that disaffection and promised withdrawal and redirection to the "real" war of necessity in Afghanistan. A surge wouldn't be the solution in Iraq, all evidence to the contrary, but it would be the proper course in Afghanistan. Illogical? Not in Obamaland.

So, he calls in a special operations expert, Gen. Stan McChrystal. He's the guy who coordinated a lot of the "deck of cards" operations that cleaned house on Baathists and al-Qaeda in Iraq. He has spent his career dedicated to counter insurgency special warfare. He's not a Patton, but more of a Wild Bill Donovan in a uniform. Think of him as "double-Oh-SEAL." The general and the President sat down in March and established the mission charter. Off he goes to war and the President is behind him. Or so he thought.

Five months elapse, improvements are emerging and in August McChrystal sends a CLASSIFIED memo outlining the situation and asking for more troops. The memo is almost immediately leaked. Where is the Valerie Plame outrage?

Now, we've got the Messiah saying we've got to develop a strategy. We've got to consult with Congress. We've got to ask Hillary and Joe Biden, neither of which are military heavyweights, what to do. Should we accede to the request or should we pull out. Or should we equivocate and send some troops but not enough to do the job? What happened to the strategy of March?

Attention Mr. President! People die in combat. They do so in the service of their country. Before you stand back and send people to die you had better figure out what needs doing. If it needs doing, send a lot of them and get it done. If it doesn't need doing, then pull them out and take the consequences of that failure which looks to be a nuclear armed Taliban within a year as they destabilize Pakistan.

But, don't say that your General is off the reservation when he speaks publicly of what your office leaked a month ago. Don't tell him to salute and follow orders to lead his Light Horse Brigade against the cannons at the end of the valley.

Gen. McChrystal, you know what you must do. I hope you have the courage to do it. Gen. Petraeus, you also know what this situation requires. Leadership requires standing up for what is right. Leadership requires supporting your command as well as your commander. The troops look to leaders to look out for them. This is a deciding moment for the nation.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Is Mr. Jefferson Available for a Declaration

Unfortunately few of my students are familiar with the Declaration of Independence. They've heard of it certainly, but they couldn't tell you much about its contents or even the relationship of the document to our Constitution, the Revolution or our republican form of government. Told that it was a summary of the grievances against our colonial masters and the rationale for separating from British rule, they nod slack-jawed and go back to texting friends from beneath the surface of their college desk.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to point out to their government that they reach too far, they tax too heavily, they fail to represent then it becomes a distinct possibility that some declaration is in order. Where is the honorable Mr. Jefferson when we need him?

Read this carefully:

Your Exhalation Becomes a Pollutant and Law is What We Make it When We Choose

The EPA freely admit that the application of law was never what was intended, but it gets them some authority to make it fit:

The EPA has now formally made an "endangerment finding" on CO2, which will impose the command-and-control regulations of the Clean Air Act across the entire economy. Because this law was never written to apply to carbon, the costs will far exceed those of a straight carbon tax or even cap and trade

Mercury in the water is dangerous. PCBs in your food are toxic. Carbon dioxide is a product of life. We take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants take in CO2 and return oxygen. It's the cycle of life, not endangerment.

If you wish to really delve into Wonderland and the convoluted thinking of Lewis Carrol's fantasy work, try this piece of justification on for size:

The EPA admits that it is "departing from the literal application of statutory provisions." But it says the courts will accept its revision because literal application will produce results that are "so illogical or contrary to sensible policy as to be beyond anything that Congress could reasonably have intended."

See, if you don't like the way the law is written you can just apply the "absurd result" criterion. But an intelligent man might want to ask, "absurd" by whose standard? I've got to say that I think it is absurdity of the highest order to create a bureaucratic empire of taxation and increased costs on the cycle of normal life. I think it reaches beyond absurdity to the level of insanity to do this during a period of economic recession. I think it becomes criminal when it will cripple our national economy, have no impact on the rest of the world and won't do a damned thing about climate change which increasingly is being shown to be a non-existant issue.

...we hold these truths to be self-evident...that it is becoming time for a change, one we can not only believe in, but one which is absolutely necessary if we are to survive.

Don't Forget Your Costume

The commercial cliche is familiar to everyone, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV..." Usually it is a disclaimer of sorts when the pitch is for some health product and the pitchman is obligated to insure that no viewer mistakenly thinks they are getting real medical advice. Now, we've got a new application, "I'm really a doctor, but I play one that supports the Messiah on the White House lawn."

It is reminiscent of the staged backdrop for political meetings with an array of (pick an appropriate one), military personnnel, ethnic minority representatives, identifiable occupation workers, first-responders, elderly, disabled, athletic team members, etc. You get a bunch of Village People costumes and set them up as stage dressing. "More indian chiefs and leather-clad bikers support X, Y or Z..."

This time it is doctors. Read the news item:

These Hand-Picked Doctors in Real Lab Coats Support Me

Have we gotten so stupid as to believe that if you fly a doctor from the West Coast to a White House promotional event that he would come wearing a lab coat? Do we believe that this symbolizes a nation-wide medical professional opinion on healthcare reform which is going to take all those nasty technical decisions out of their hands and place them before panels of bureaucrats? Does your doctor ever see you wearing a lab coat? Do you ever encounter your doctor going down the street in a lab coat? Maybe the next time they should all be in those attractive Mickey Mouse and Goofy scrubs?

This whole administration has descended into the world of fantasy. Nothing seems real any more and so much is stagecraft and lighting.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

An Honest Appraisal So Far

Hat tip to Chicago Ray for this:

Delving Into the Mire

I'm ambivalent this morning. Uusally I'm an optimist. I always try to find the positive, even when I'm pointing out the negatives in our society. The mere fact that I find the outrage at the outrageous still exists is re-inforcing. Yet, the focus on trivialities, the contortions of the situational morality, and the exploitation of the abject ignorance of the American electorate is beginning to prevail.

Want to know why the mainstream print media is going bankrupt? Try this piece of critical "news" from the blog of the Chicago Tribune:

Anniversary Dinner Date

Yes, folks, that's reporting by the newspaper of record in my old hometown. Just back from a dual-jet trip to Copenhagen, the royal couple step out in DC for a quiet little dinner. The reporter notes they both were in black (how festive for an anniversary!), and the fish courses at the restaurant cost less than $30, but he doesn't know what they ordered!

But, stepping back from phony celebrity, let's go with a real celebrity commenting on a real celebrity with a bit of a problem:

We've Got A Different View

Yes, folks, Whoopi defines a new crime, "rape-rape". I guess that's the one where you use a club rather than Qualudes on a 13 year old. She goes on to specify,

Would I want my 14-year-old having sex with somebody? Not necessarily, no.

Is that like a "maybe"?

Maybe your menu for the day would deal with a bit of supervisory transgression? That's a popular euphemism for pulling a Lewinski. I don't refer here to a bit of adult behavior between consenting big folks. What I mean is the practice of "hey, I'm the boss and was wondering if you'd like to improve your position in the organization by taking a position vis-a-vis, me." It's usually followed by either a job search or a need for a hot bath. When it is applied to "several" staff members, it becomes a predatory practice.

--Regretably the 10 minute video which was here has been blocked by the network which thought it was pretty funny when David Letterman did it--

But, it makes a funny monologue and the villain turns out to be the guy who threatens to point it out or keep it quiet for some money. Extortion is bad, but what about the original behavior pattern? And, what about the long history of villification of folks he doesn't agree with for similar behavior? Isn't this a "glass house dweller stone heaver" situation? In the TV studio it generates applause and laughter!

I top off my weekend with a slightly fuzzy feeling that this bottom-dwelling, bentozoic, slime-eating slug is facing a box-office disaster:

Capitalism, A Love Story

What is most amazing is that Moore doesn't really credit a free market capitalist system with his own personal wealth.

At least Obama, B; Obama, M; and Oprah; were soundly rebuffed by, drum-roll please, the entire bloody world in Copenhagen!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday Morning Fantasy

Contemplating the relationships between the President, the masters of Chicago, the anticipation of huge payoffs for Chicago and the visit to Copenhagen, I could only come up with this:

It is also an excellent demonstration of what recreational drugs will do for you.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Investment Advice

Put your money in Portuguese language course futures at Rosetta Stone! There's gonna be a rush to learn how to say "Bom Dia!"

Piling On

This is becoming a series apparently. I'm up for a long run of these: