Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Emerging Political World

We know he postures as a great leader. He's told us repeatedly what sort of incredible take-charge guy he is, even while creating that new concept for Libya of "leading from the rear." Of course that image is so very metro-sexual and modern liberal that it seems to fit the Messiah like a lacy black elbow-length evening glove.

He's told us again and again that he's called meetings, set up committees, demanded reports, worked day-and-night, established this or that has his highest priority. We've seen him take off his coat, roll up his sleeves, summon Air Force One and take to the hustings to claim victory on this, that or the other thing. He's one campaigning fool with a resume full of conspicuous empty.

Meanwhile we've got prices rising, unemployment rising, debt rising, the markets falling, large chunks of the globe in turmoil, threats rising, savings eroding, gas prices sky-rocketing, and the Cubs sixteen games out of the lead in their division. I guess it isn't working. And, I guess folks are noticing:

Put Down Your Tweeter and Step Slowly Away, Mr. President

If there is one lesson to be learned from the political kabuki of last week, that has got to be the top contender.

President musters his loyal Twitter Army and in response to his tweeted appeal for pressure on the bad guys who want to tie up his purse strings and put his dependent leeches out on the street, they abandon him!

He asks for more pressure and forty thousand people remove him from their Twitter feed list.

There might yet be hope for the electorate. Just a glimmer.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not What It Seems

We are so accustomed to ICE failing to effectively work the illegal immigrant problem that we are almost shocked when a raid is conducted and it seems to uncover something significant. Here's an example:

University of Northern Virginia Hit Big

Did your "harumph" deteriorate into head-shaking at the audacity of the operation? Mine surely did.

It starts out with just one little word in the description, "unaccredited". A college or university which lacks accreditation is a farce. If they aren't recognized by educational peers how can they claim to provide an education worthy of the name? Who would pay for schooling by someone who doesn't have the credibility to be acknowledged?

Illegals from India seeking a justification for being here is the answer to that question.

The UNV web-site is down. So, it's not possible to see what appears at their link labeled "accreditation". It isn't possible to see what their admission criteria are or what the tariff for attendance might be. There's no immediate way to see the faculty roster or their credentials.

But Wikipedia offers a great overview of the place:

Unaccredited Since 2008
A March 2011 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education compared UNVA's enrollment practices and business model to those of Tri-Valley University, a California institution that was forced to close after facing an investigation for visa fraud.[2] The Chronicle article states that UNVA enrolls Indian students who work full-time in "internships," without being required to attend actual classes.
That's a great gig, isn't it?  The place is run by a grocery store owner of three "international food" stores in DC. Students are brought here from India where they are promised a student visa, they don't attend classes and they work full-time in "internships."

Wanna bet those internships focus on grocery store marketing, check-out, and shelf stocking?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leading the Trend

Yes, fans, I've always been a pace-setter. My style, my flair, my limited budget and less-than-svelte figure have always made me a  consumer ahead of my time. Now, my good taste in automobiles has been confirmed.

Not A Mercedes S, a Bimmer Seven or a Lexus LS...An Equus

Genesis Interior
No, I'm not driving an Equus. When I got my new wheels in January, the Equus had just been released and wasn't available for a couple of months. I saw one and was dutifully impressed.

I've got the Equus' cousin, the Genesis. It shares the same 4.6L 385hp V-8. It's got the same audio system, which is shares with the Rolls-Royce. The major differences are the Equus has a 4" longer wheelbase and is 7" longer overall. That's reflected in the limo sized rear doors. The back seat of the Equus is strictly for VIP hauling with heated and cooled reclining and massaging seats arrayed in front of a pair of individually programmable video screens. Since I seldom have back-seat pax, let-alone VIPs, I really don't need that.
Genesis

Global Climate Stability

A couple of significant, if largely ignored stories percolating today on the global warming  climate change issue. I've always been a skeptic about the power of 300 million Americans to destroy the climate despite the best efforts of the other 7 billion global inhabitants to simply ignore it all for the sake of progress.

One story deals with the inconvenient truth that rather than being endangered or even threatened, polar bears are thriving with populations up around the world.

The other has to do with the peer-reviewed scientific journal research publication that heat is being dissipated much faster than thought through holes in the ozone and upper atmosphere carbon dioxide layers.

Here's more info about both:

It's All Because We Haven't Been Properly Educated 

If the government would just capture the kids a lot younger and give them the proper brain-washing, we wouldn't have to worry about pesky ol' facts.

Who Writes Her Material?

Whoever is giving her lines like this needs to be examined. She needs to be committed.

Saving Life on the Planet As We Know It Today

Could we say that she has an over-inflated view of her role? Does she really think that "life on the planet" is threatened by a budget that acknowledges fiscal realities?

Reduced to This?

A lot of political arguments are flimsy, self-serving and pathetic. Many are based on either pandering for votes by promising paradise or instilling panic by pointing to potential disaster caused by allowing the other side to prevail. The former is counter-productive for governmental efficiency and the latter is reprehensible because it preys on the fears of the ignorant.

But this is too pathetic for words:

Boehner Killed Santa Claus and Is Plotting Against the Elves

Seriously? Is that the best they can do to justify a free rein for unlimited continued spending?

See how many times you encounter the Christmas Calamity prediction in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dystopia

This reads like a science-fiction apocalyptic future novel. The only catch is that it is real.

Detroit To Allocate Services to Neighborhoods That Might Survive

Twenty-five or thirty years ago we were looking at major metropolitan centers and seeing a process that was variously labeled renaissance, gentrification, reconstruction or recovery. Here we see the end game of a politically corrupt, redistributionist, left-wing government's half century of mismanagement.

The language of the decree is frightening by itself. The comments about selective choices of who receives what service. The arbitrary nature of categorization of entire segments of the city. The disclaimer that we won't force anyone to relocate...and the implication that the missing word in that sentence is "yet".

Now, with a good hard and objective look at Detroit how could a sane and rational voter voluntarily support the political party and ideology that got a major industrial center with a core called the Renaissance Center to this sad state?

This is the direction of the nation right now.

Is It What It Seems to Be?

I question everything. Too often we encounter knee jerk reaction to some supposed affront that upon objective examination turns out to be more innuendo than insult. I'm unsure about this one. When I first heard it I was taken aback but didn't find it unbelievable in light of some of the shenanigans of the current administration. The more I heard, the more suspicious I became.

The original outrage was over Memorial Day week-end. Now two months later we get this report of the Texas Congressman who went "under cover" to unearth the truth:

God, Jesus, Not Welcome at Funerals

Are you outraged? Now, I'm not.

Apparently this is a case where some well-intentioned veteran's groups are choosing to attend funerals of fallen warriors and provide "honors" in accordance with their traditions. That doesn't sound like a bad thing. I plan, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, to be interred at Arlington. I've earned the privilege and I want the e-ticket ride with caisson and folded flag and shots fired and a bugler if not a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace. That's my wish.

What I don't want is a group of folks to stand over my casket, urn or cardboard box of left-over body parts and intone some words to Baal, Allah, Jehovah or Mars. I don't want the Westboro Baptist Church, I don't want the VFW, I don't want the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Christian Science Reading Room. I hope that there might be a half-dozen River Rats and maybe one or two current fighter pilots to toss a nickel on the grass.

This policy flap appears to be about do-gooders imposing their view on a grieving family which may not be receptive. The requirement for a pre-review of a script might be onerous, but the need to ask the family if it would be OK with them to perform their ceremonies in honor of the deceased seems totally reasonable to me.

I'm not outraged anymore. I may be when more of this story emerges.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How Serious Can It Be?

We keep hearing about the pending apocalypse when August 2nd comes. But if that is so, why then when the Speaker of the House announces a deal with spending cuts, revenue growth and a debt-limit increase to carry through November with provisions for a second massive debt increase at that time do we hear that the President will veto it and the Senate Majority Leader announces it dead on arrival?

And why does the majority party in the House have a rift?

House Vote Split, Tea Party Makes Demands

The President and his sock-puppet, Harry Reid, will be satisfied with only one thing. It is independent of spending cuts, tax code reform or any other provisions of a bill. It is the singular fact that a debt limit increase must be large enough to carry past the November 2012 election. They are totally dependent upon the demonstrably short memory of the electorate. Make the problem go away so the booboisie will go to the polls and vote for four more years of incompetence.

The Tea Party caucus is a more serious problem and not as easily solvable. While their motivation may be good, there are some realities of governing of which they seem unaware .

Boehner's bill has this handling of a Balanced Budget Amendment:
It would also require both the House andSenate to hold votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
That would seem to be a guarantee of debate, discussion and a recorded vote. You can't do better than that. But here is the Tea Party position:
But conservative Republicans in the House, many allied to the tea party movement, said they don’t just want votes on the amendment, they want an assurance it will be sent to the states.  
Have they not read the Constitution? Don't they know that the way a proposed amendment gets to the states for ratification is with approval of 2/3 of both chambers? It might be possible to deal with that hurdle in the House, but just barely. It is a total impossibility in the US Senate. It simply can't be guaranteed and it isn't even realistic to wish for it.

When In Peril, Call the Police

What should you do when in danger in Liberal Land where gun-control has had its ugly way . You've been disarmed by your government. You have no right to private gun ownership except under very limited onerous conditions and you certainly aren't allowed concealed carry.

Call the police. They are the professionals trained for these situations and they will rescue you.

Law Enforcement Response Failure

Did you get that?

  1. There was a cop on the scene already
  2. He was unarmed
  3. He must seek "authorization" to get his weapon out of storage
  4. He was first to die
  5. The local department had no boat even though they have extensive waterfront and island jurisdiction
  6. They couldn't find a car to get to where they could rent a boat if one was available
  7. The entire nation's helicopter law enforcement capability was on summer leave
  8. The situation was not new or particular to this fateful day
And for the ultimate idiocy, the penalty for these killings in Norway will amount to 100 days in prison per body. For the entire toll of 76 dead, the perp will, if convicted get 21 years. 

Yeah, if threatened call a cop. 

Swift Boats and Stolen Valor

Much was made during the 2004 Presidential campaign of John Kerry's heroism. Much less was made of his treachery afterward as he vilified the warriors on the firing line in that protracted war. He was eager to gain the glory but quick to condemn others who fought. He threw his medals, including his Silver Star over the White House fence renouncing them until years later when it met his needs he displayed them and announced the flinging was purely symbolic...and involved someone else's medals.

He was introduced by fellow Swiftie, also a holder of the Silver Star, at his nomination for President. It was a very clear effort to minimize the Swift Boats for Truth campaign which had mustered highly respected POWs and Brown Water warriors to discredit his behavior both in combat and afterward.

But the cliche that "truth will out" seems difficult to avoid. This surfaces today:

Nominator Digs Kiddie Porn. Silver Star Revoked

The medal revocation is certainly a very rare event. The Navy Times originally published the story, but for some strange reason it is no longer available on their web site. Who would believe the coincidence!

Here are the details:

Swifties Look at Star Revocation

The true believers will not be swayed by this, but many Americans will nod to themselves and understand a bit more about American politics today. It isn't a pretty picture and it gets darker every day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fast and Furious

It just keeps getting better and better:

Convicted Felons Get Green Light 360 Times For Firearms Purchase

"See, that's why we need more federal gun laws...."

How much longer does Eric Holder keep his job?

Chicken Little Report

It was what is described in political circles as "a helluva weekend."

It started on Friday evening with what can only be described as a Presidential melt-down. In a press-conference regarding the impending debt-limit problems the President went from pleading to petulant to political to petty in just 25 short minutes. What didn't show up was leadership, maturity, or a serious proposal for anything other than either a Leninist storming of the Czar's palace or a guaranteed no-peek-at-performance before the next election. Neither, of course, is realistic.

That led to the rebuttal by the Speaker of the House who maturely suggested that an agreement was violated, a stop-gap debt-limit increase was totally acceptable, and serious review of the tax code and entitlements was essential. It was clear he had the votes in the House and it was implied that the stumbling block was Senate majority intransigence.

The President's summoning of the Congressional leaders to a confab on Saturday morning was fruitless, as we all expected it to be. Simply sitting at a table and pontificating for the cameras is still not leadership. The meeting was short and produced nothing.

The Big Four of the legislature then met conspicuously without a White House participant. Top leaders of both parties in both chambers took their positions. And nothing happened.

The Sunday talk shows dawned with spin performances from an array of the usual suspects. Promises were put forth that a deal might well be forthcoming by Sunday evening in time to forestall a predicted market calamity when the Asian markets and the futures exchanges began trading for the week.

The talking heads bloviated, pontificated, predicted, wailed and instructed us on how to get into our figurative economic tornado shelters.

The trading day is now three-quarters over on Monday. No debt-limit deal has been reached and the status of the sky, Chicken Little, is that the markets have shrugged.

Nothing noticeable has happened. There have been no screams in the distance of Grandma in her wheelchair being pushed off a cliff either.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mendacity on Display

Could it be any more obvious? The Morning Fishwrapper had a couple of articles on the looming debt-limit crisis. Possibly the most stunning was the graph of the national debt curve from the 1980s. The gradual upward slope increases slowly from the beginning until about the year 2000. Then it takes a turn for the heavens doubling from five to ten trillion dollars in that decade. But that isn't the vertical limit by a long shot. The curve becomes near perpendicular with the jump from ten to fourteen plus trillion in the last two and a half years. Now we are at $14.3 T and in need of legislative relief at least temporarily.

There needs to be an easing of the limit. That seems increasingly obvious. The simple knee-jerk positions of yes/no don't stand the scrutiny of where we are and what the immediate pending obligations are. We need a debt limit increase.

But that isn't a mandate for simply continuing down the profligate path. We must reduce our deficit spending. We must modify our entitlement mentality. We can't simply say, no changes and whistle in the darkness about the changing demographics and the not-so-long term viability of our programs. We've got to change spending and we certainly need tax code revisions. We need a breathing space to do that.

The distinction between revenue and tax increases is an important one. We don't want to see additional taxes or taxation rate increases. We very reasonably could use an objective examination of carve outs, deductions and special provisions for narrow segments. Elimination of those special categories would increase revenues. In fact, using rough data from Bowles-Simpson recommendations or the Gang of Six proposal you could lower tax rates, eliminate a group of deductions and get increased revenue while a large percentage of the population would experience tax cuts.

That sort of a shift requires some time to hammer out details. Ditto for adjustments to Social Security such as changes to COLA criteria or increases in retirement age. That necessitates a short-term debt-limit increase.

But that could be handled with a relatively small amount for a six-month period. That solves all the problems but one. That is where the mendacity comes in.

The debt and deficit and taxes are the nibbling rats that are chewing at the President's re-election bid. They simply must be made to disappear for him to gain another four years. His incessant demand that any debt-limit increase be at least $2.5-4 T and extend beyond Jan 2013 is not related to markets or the impending crisis. It is purely related to his political future.

Harry Reid is the loyal henchman in the Senate. This gray, pallid, marginally articulate, charisma-challenged individual mouths the litany provided for him by the White House each day but the American people are beginning to understand what this is all about.

Walk In My Footsteps

There has been a very professional bunch of folks working recently to bring the mission scenarios from When Thunder Rolled to the flight simulator community. Using the highly configurable Third Wire environment they have been modeling the F-105, the landscapes of Korat and NVN, the weaponry, and even figures like a chubby, immature, scrawny mustachioed 1/Lt in the cockpit. The missions recreate events described in the book and for those who have read Thunder, it will provide an opportunity to get into an F-105 cockpit and give it a shot yourself.

The roll-out of the completed game module will probably be in the coming months, but a web-site describing the progress, the people involved and showing some of the graphics is now open here:

When Thunder Rolled Home Page

If you are into flight simulators or know some folks who are, give them a heads-up on this. Point them at the site and let them take a look.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unfit For Duty?

One of my tag lines in class is "Americans are too stupid for democracy."

If you think that is harsh, ponder this emerging story:

Donor Daughter Fair Game for Nutso Congress-Critter

OK, he's 56. The daughter graduated from high school in 2010, so that makes her either seventeen or eighteen. His description is that it was consensual.

A normal person would stop right there. Fifty-six year old men in positions of elected office do not have sex either consensual or forced with teen-aged girls.

But that doesn't support my claim. It's simply a Clinton-standard of what the definition of sex is and whether a public figure has any private life that is off-limits to the media. Sorry, that's lame.

Consider this from that news piece:
Shortly before the 2010 elections, Wu began behaving erratically, according to The Oregonian and other news outlets. Wu sent a bizarre picture of himself in a tiger costume to his staffers, and some of them urged him to seek psychiatric help. More than a half dozen staffers and campaign consultants quit as Wu bombarded them with troubling phone calls and emails.
Erratic behavior, psychiatric help, bizarre acts and a staff that abandons him; that's something to hang a re-election bid on! Or maybe this:
This episode is the latest in a long list of troubling incidents for Wu, including a previous allegation of sexual assault lodged against him by a former girlfriend when they were both attending Stanford University in 1976.
Oh, I see this has been going on since 1976.

The confirmation of my thesis is that despite these reports he still got re-elected last year. That's the demonstration that we are too stupid for democracy. When we vote these people repeatedly into office, how can be be surprised when our government is totally screwed up?

One can only wonder if the parents of the girl are going to remain Wu campaign donors for the next election.

No Surprise

No great shock here. Following the grand tradition of Janet Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, et. al.

Amy Winehouse Dead In London

At His Finest

This, my friends, is your post-partisan President at his finest hitting his talking points with precision:



Did you get all those? Let me help you:

At 0:14 "on the backs of seniors"
At 0:18 "slashing out commitment to make sure kids can go to college"
At 0:25 "kids off the Medicaid rolls so they can't get basic care..."
At 0:37 "some fairness"
At 0:50 reference to Cap, Cut & Balance which was tabled in Senate several hours earlier
At 1:10 "all the burden on the people least able to protect themselves"
At 1:14 "lobbyists in this town"
At 1:16 "lawyers working on the tax code for them"
At 1:18 "working stiffs out there, ordinary folks"
At 1:27 "struggling every day and they know they're getting a raw deal"
At 1:45 "somebody who is willing to look out for them"
At 2:04 "some talk radio show host"
At 2:12 "or what pledge we signed on the campaign trail"
At 2:40 "if you want to be a leader, then you've got to lead...."

That's a tour de force for the Nanny State from the Leader who takes great pride in his position of "leading from behind."

You get class warfare, envy, the paternalistic obligations, the slam at talk-radio, the implication that the 51% that pay no federal income tax are bearing a burden, that college is a right rather than individual responsibility, that seniors are under attack, and that he is above the fray, Der Fuehrer.

It was an embarrassing moment for America last night at 5:20 CDT.

Norwegian Madness

The initial knee-jerk toward al-Qaeda appears to have passed and the perpetrator of yesterday's madness in Norway is identified as a 32-year-old Norwegian with neo-Nazi ties.

For probably the most complete and clearest report on the day take a look here:

Terror on the Island

Reports indicate the police response took roughly thirty minutes to reach the scene. This confirms once again that the only response to immediate threat which you can depend upon is the one you carry with you.

Saturday Morning Rocker

From the days when they were hot. I never was a fan of Michael McDonald but this was pre-MM.

From the Horse's Mouth

I didn't post the link to the video or the video itself, but if you hit any of the Regular Stops links in the right-hand column in the last three days you would have encountered the outrageous video of law-enforcement malfeasance in Canton OH. It is an officer run amok and should frighten not only the citizens of Ohio but throughout the nation. It can happen in your town.

To read an excellent analysis of the video visit Warrior Class here:

Details on Training and What Went Wrong in Canton

I respect and support law enforcement. I've never encountered a less-than-professional officer and I surely can understand the stress of working in some of the neighborhoods and with some of the people they face. But we must recognize that there can be a lot of problems festering. Without involved leadership and supervision they can rapidly get out of hand.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wiley Clapp TALO Commander

Is this pretty or what? No, Wiley Clapp's name isn't scrolled on it. This is the left side and there is virtually nothing on the right side of the slide. The company nomenclature is "21st Century Commander" and it is a well thought-out very update 1911 with all the goodies you need and none that you don't...at least according to Clapp.

The brass bead sight seems a bit old-fashioned but it simply pops out at you as though it were really a golden LED. Pretty amazing.

The grips taper at the forward edge and the aggressive front strap checkering flows right into the grip surface and creates probably the best non-slip surface I've ever felt.

Just the thing to start hinting to Santa Claus about if you are one of those folks who still needs a 1911. Maybe I should sell a Kimber? I get bad thoughts whenever I stop at my local gun-shop. But the folks there are fun to talk to and you get to touch neat things.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Over the Transom

This came across my desk recently. I always try to attribute other's writing, but there's no way to track down who originally penned this parable of progressive tax operation. Snopes.com doesn't deal with the veracity or logic, merely the determination of who wrote it and they can't pin it down. Regardless, I admit up front that I didn't write it but it is a good lesson in exactly what we've got in America today:

THE TAX SYSTEM EXPLAINED IN BEER

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government bureaucrats, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


Paying For The Privilege

Being honored by the presence of the Great One for even a single day can have a high price. But simply being able to ponder his intellect, his beauty, his grandeur and his historic significance is well worth the cost.

Ireland Says Day-Tripper Cost $16.5 Million

I suppose it would have been better if he had left a foreign aid bundle of a couple of hundred million on the nightstand after he left. But hey, Ireland isn't Venezuela.

And what is Ireland griping about? Can you imagine what the American taxpayer has coughed up so far for these facetime trips? Why can't we just get him an iPad and a wireless account and then everyone can be enthralled continually around the globe?

Sleep. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Do you harbor the American Dream? Do you believe you live in a golden land of opportunity? Do you know in your heart that your family will grow and prosper in a stable world and that your children will have a better life than you, just as your life has been better than your parents and theirs was much better than their parents before them?

I do, but according to John Zogby, I am part of a shrinking demographic:

Fewer Believe In the American Dream Today

What may be the most chilling thought from that piece is that the electorate which embraced the Messiah in 2008 comprised a preponderance of those who despair of a better life for their families. Is this the sort of fertile ground that spread beneath the feat of Lenin?

Alternative Fuel

The cost of gasoline is a hot topic and it seems to persist whether it is rising or falling. It is always griped about as too high. Growing up in Chicago gasoline cost about two-bits a gallon. (For those maturity impaired who don't remember the term, that's twenty-five cents.) Occasionally the gas stations would break out into a price war and the price would dip to eighteen or seventeen or sixteen cents a gallon.

Despite that seeming low cost, when we gathered in the hot summer evenings and sought to hop in a car and go cruising we would pool the change in our jeans pockets and after separating the pocket lint, empty matchbooks and occasional tiny pieces of gravel, we'd come up with enough for a gallon or two. If it was late at night and the station wasn't busy we would move the car from pump to pump and drain the excess in the hoses. Hey, a bucks a buck!

If we adjust for inflation over the decades, we can usually demonstrate that there really isn't much creep in gasoline prices today. The long-term, however, usually masks pain that the short cycle exacerbates. We don't care what portion of our income we spent on gas in 1970 or 1985. We care about how much we see at the end of a fill-up today compared to last month or last year. At about $2.75 a gallon, gas is as cheap as it was in my childhood. At $4.00 it is a factor worthy of discussion.

We should be aware that gasoline comes from oil and oil is a global commodity not a national one. We compete and supply/demand rules. Factors like political stability in oil producing regions play on the price. Growth and industrialization of huge population centers like China and India raise demand exponentially. Restrictions on exploitation of domestic resources reduce supply at home and increase dependence. Regulation of additives, refinery construction, transportation and a complex multi-governmental tax structure all add up.

So, it occurred to me that we might want to consider cost per gallon of other products. I wondered, for example if maybe we could run a vehicle on milk if it were cheaper. It is a totally domestic product and only minimally regulated. Other than baby farts and cow methane it doesn't seem to contribute much to environmental hazards or global climate seasonal variations. I'm not sure if a swap to nourish the kids on gasoline could succumb to an engineering blitz for new technology though.

Here are some comparative prices per gallon to consider other candidates:

Cost per gallon:

  1. Gasoline $3.55
  2. Milk $3.79
  3. Bleach $2.20
  4. Auto coolant/anti-freeze $4.19
  5. Blush wine (box) $5.65
  6. Hershey's Chocolate Syrup $13.23
  7. Soy Sauce $15.23
  8. Red Bull Energy Drink $30.69
  9. Absolut Vodka $58.69
  10. Tabasco Sauce $94.46
Well, I guess it wasn't such a good idea. Other than the public service of taking all that blush wine out of circulation, it seems that we are stuck with gasoline and its annual price cycles and market volatility. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not All News Babes Are Smart

You sort of lose perspective after watching a lot of the women on Fox News. Somehow they all seem knock-out gorgeous and they turn out to be both articulate and well educated; many of them with law degrees.

But not all networks are so fortunate. Some hire for looks and some hire for brains. Apparently MSNBC made a poor choice.

"Yes, Maam, I Do Have a Degree in Economics"

She seems to have violated a basic principle there. If you absolutely must make ad hominem comments about what an interviewee's qualifications are, you should already know the answer. Otherwise you wind up looking like a buffoon.

Ahhh To Be Thirty Again

This would be the office I would chose if I could only be thirty years old again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Linebacker II...By Request

The Flying Barrister recalled some comments about Jane Fonda in Palace Cobra in light of the current dismissal of the pre-historic harpy from her PR gig because of her traitorous past. He asked for an excerpt.

The chapter deals with Linebacker II, the Christmas bombing campaign that ran from the eighteenth to the twenty-ninth of December of 1972. It was the effort that should have been unleashed in 1965 and a lot of lives would have been spared on both sides. We were going to Hanoi in large numbers and there was a lot going on.
It was, after all, the holiday season. It was a time of Christmas cheer and finally, even on the flightline without the benefit of the classified briefings and target listings, they knew that this was the real thing. We were finally, after more than eight years of tepid, half-hearted, politically driven war, going to take the war to a conclusion. So, it was only appropriate that these youngsters, slaving on the flightline would send their greetings and wishes to the enemy. They had created Christmas cards for delivery by their pilots. The huge white centerline fuel tanks, sure to be jettisoned on the way in to the target areas were festooned with red and green spray painted sentiments for Ho Chi Minh, Jane Fonda, and Ramsey Clark. Some were traditional Christmas sentiments, sent sarcastically and others were more ribald. There was scatology and insult aplenty, surrounded by artfully sprayed green Christmas trees and red Santa’s sleighs. Some tanks were works of remarkable talent and others were crude scribbling, but every tank on every centerline on every airplane that was going to Hanoi was painted.

It didn’t take long for the word about the painted tanks to get to the wing commander, Colonel Vojvodich. The idea of defacing government property wasn’t one that he could tolerate without demanding some answers. Where did all this spray paint come from? Whose idea was this? Who was in charge of Government Issue spray paint? The answer came quickly. It was Turk Turley, the Field Maintenance Squadron commander. Turk, an F-105 hundred mission veteran from my first tour, was now flying the F-4E as a maintenance squadron commander attached to the 34th Tac Fighter Squadron. It was FMS that owned the paint locker, and therefore Turk’s responsibility. “Get Turley in my office, NOW!”

“I think he’s flying, sir,” the wing king’s exec responded. “I’ll track him down as soon as he gets back.”

The wing boss knew Turk well. Turk had volunteered to fly his wing on any Pack VI missions, not only as a way of keeping the wing commander whose experience in fast jets was mostly related to reconnaissance flying alive, but also as a way of keeping young lieutenants isolated from “the man” and out of harm’s way. Turk knew he could take care of himself and might even be able to put himself in place to get a MiG if he had to pull the boss’ chestnuts out of the proverbial fire.

Turk reported to headquarters smartly as soon as he got the word. “Yes, sir. What seems to be the problem?”

“Turk, what’s this about your flight line troops misusing government paint and putting all that crap on those centerline fuel tanks?”

“Beats me, sir. I heard something about some markup going on, painting on the bombs and centerlines.”

“You know that’s prohibited. What the hell do you intend to do about it?”

“Well sir, I think I’m going to have to order more paint.” Turk saluted smartly and withdrew.

The skies were clear over Hanoi when we got there. Tendrils of smoke drifted up from targets that had been hit during the night and still smoldered. There was always tenseness as you left the foothills and got out into the flats, but today there was little going on. The A-7s were hitting targets to the north and west of Hanoi while the F-4 bomb droppers were dealing with bridges and storage areas closer to Bullseye. Only one or two SAMs were fired and little was seen of the big guns. A MiG engagement had taken place during the chaff drops and the contrails of the missiles formed a tic-tac-toe game overhead, white against the bright blue sky. The air defense was either overwhelmed from the previous night or had made a conscious decision to horde their resources and wait for the BUFFs to return. Either way, we had a light day.

The second night of the campaign, the B-52s returned with three more waves of bombers. Recce photos showed both the damage and the precision of the campaign. Bomb strings from the huge aircraft walked across the targets and carefully seemed to sidestep residential areas or designated off limits compounds. Intelligence information on probable POW compounds was put to good use and while we may have joked about dropping one on Jane Fonda, we were well aware that a lot of our friends had a front row seat for the battle that was going on.

Jack Van Loan and a lot of his friends had been moved out of Hanoi early during the Linebacker campaign. They had been transported out of the city in mid-May to a new camp they dubbed “Dogpatch” near the Chinese border. Some said it was an attempt to break up the cadre of senior resistance leaders among the POWs. Guys like Jack Van Loan, Robbie Risner, Paul Galanti, Larry Guarino and others had been well organized and with the commencement of Linebacker, they were working hard to integrate the new arrivals to the POW camps into their organizations. Maybe it was breaking up the leadership or maybe it was a way of protecting the North Vietnamese bargaining chips at the peace talks. Either way, they were going to miss the show.

Dave Mott, on the other hand, was still in the center of town. He had been at the Hoa Lo prison, the infamous Hanoi Hilton, from shortly after his capture until early December when he was moved, in apparent anticipation of a possible rescue effort similar to the 1970 Son Tay raid from Hoa Lo to the smaller Plantation in the northeast section of Hanoi. With rudimentary hand tools, they were ordered to dig bomb shelter trenches in their cells, under their rough board beds, large enough to crawl into in the event of attack. The similarity in size between a sheltering trench and a man-sized grave was not lost on the prisoners.


Tough to Stay Current

You know you are old when planking is prehistoric and owling is so very yesterday because there is a new craze for the ungainfully un-employed privileged youth of America. It's "Leisure Diving". 

If you need more examples, there are a bunch here:

Summer Pastime and Pool Pollution A Specialty

It must be wonderful to be that age and affluent too.

With Friends Like These...

Remember Thomas Eagleton? It was 1972, Nixon was seeking re-election and the Democratic candidate for the presidency was anti-war George McGovern. He nominated Eagleton as his running mate and shortly thereafter it was revealed that Eagleton had been exposed to electro-shock therapy years earlier, a treatment for severe mental illness that has been vilified for years in dark horror movies about insane asylums. The Eagleton candidacy ended immediately. A few months later McGovern lost 49 out of 50 states and Nixon won by a landslide.

All well and good as a history lesson. That was media reporting on a chosen candidate. This is a different category entirely. This is a conservative web-site  that is dumping this on a conservative candidate for the presidency that is currently running second in horse-race (and meaningless) popularity polls. See if you remain a supporter for her after reading this:

Pill-Popping Prima Donna Put Down Often

Shocking? I read it a couple of hours ago and my first reaction was to find out exactly what sort of background we have on The Daily Caller. It is labeled as a conservative news blog. It certainly seems to focus on right-wing issues and personalities. But I couldn't get past the feeling of Stalinist-era disinformation permeating the site.

I guess I'm not alone because here is what the well-established folks at Hot Air have to say about the item:

One "Confirmed" Others Doubtful. Motivation Questioned

I'm no Bachman fan. She is vocal and she is populist. I don't mind vocal but I intensely dislike populism in all of its forms. Saying what people want to hear is fine, but it isn't truth and it doesn't convince me of integrity or security in the future. We've seen too much of selective messaging tailored to today's audience.

But this smacks of a Russian Roulette Roundtable where someone in the circle has all chambers loaded. I'd almost smell a George Soros if I were the paranoid type.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Bloody Flash Mob

Cape Cod MA, July 4th:

About Time!

I'll confess, when my first book was published I was checking Amazon.com sales ranking almost hourly for a month. It was a thrill to watch and hope for fleeting fame. As time went by I checked the page once a day and then once a week and now I've not looked for several months. I'm familiar with the sales curve and I've seen it cycle now three times. I still enjoy getting to see the reader review comments. It probably isn't as easy if they are not complimentary, but I've been lucky in that regard.

I dropped by today to see if the hardcover edition of When Thunder Rolled was still available. I've given away almost all of my copies and I still like to have one or two around to offer to someone who visits. That's why I was pleased to see this:

When Thunder Rolled (Kindle Edition--Sept 11, 2011)

I really never thought Smithsonian Books would get that far into the 21st Century!

Now if we can get St. Martin's Press to release Palace Cobra in Kindle edition...

WWCD

What would Congress do if:

Economic Sense Over Political Posturing

That's not really outside-the-box thinking. It is market-driven economics.

Your creditors set your loan limits. They do so based on assessment of risk. You determine whether it is a sound fiscal decision whether to spend more or less and whether you can tolerate more or less debt. If your determinations are irresponsible your credit rating suffers. That is the constraint on your behavior.

You have to make choices. Choices have consequences. Bad choices have unpleasant consequences. Good choices reward themselves. Why is the US one of the few industrialized nations in the world to develop a number by process of anal-extraction that then governs whether our defense or our welfare culture prevails in the pay queue?

Oh, it's about elections and voting and pandering, isn't it?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pesky First Amendment Again

He started well and certainly sounded promising. A businessman with appeal and a clear message coupled with financial experience in a Federal Reserve Bank and ability to appeal to minority Americans from the right side of the political spectrum; what's not to like?

Well, this sort of ill-advised comment might be one objection:

Cain Says Local Option on Mosque Building

The linkage of building a house of worship by those which embrace the most widely practiced religion in the world to the controversy over the World Trade Center proposal for a Muslim Community Center is a stretch. The characterization that somehow a mosque in your town leads inexorably to adoption of Sharia law seems equally over-the-top.

If you put synagogue or temple or tabernacle or shrine in place of mosque, how would that sound? If you swapped out African-American, Latino, Native-American or Asian for Muslim, would it still work for you?

Isn't the law connection a parsing of terms that somehow ignores the Torah and the Bible as the source of our often-touted Judeo-Christian ethics? We don't get kosher dietary restrictions because we built a synagogue in town. We didn't have to abstain from meat on Fridays in my childhood neighborhood because St. Somebody's church was built down the street. You can have a mosque without sharia contorting your legal structure.

The sort of populist pandering that Cain appears to have stepped into in this instance will not work out in his favor.

Here is some more on the Murfreesboro mosque:

Tennessee Town Resists Islamic Center

If you can make an objective argument on zoning restrictions to deny that location, go for it. If, however, the restriction is based specifically on the objections to the religion, then it would clearly be a violation of that meddlesome ol' First Amendment.

Altamira

Some different Steely Dan, following a hint from Billy Beck:


For those who were born too late to have been able to see them directly:



The cave is in northern Spain. The paintings on the wall were done circa 15,000 BC. When I was still living in Spain the caves were open to the public and I had the chance to visit. The caves were closed to visitors in 1977 because the paintings were deteriorating from carbon dioxide in the breathing of visitors. They were reopened about five years later for a very limited number of daily visitors. Currently the waiting list is about three years long. 

I'm not sure how the Creationists would fit this into their 6,000 year old universe. But it certainly works for me to contemplate a Supreme Being. 

Teaching To the Test

When I was in the academic training business in USAF pilot training we learned about course design and evaluation. We were in the business of "training" which should be distinct from "education."

What's the difference? I like to describe it as the difference between K-12 and college. Children in K-12 are being trained. We like to call it education, but the fact is that they are being trained to a basic standard of performance. Adding, subtracting, writing, and reading are skills to be learned. You can't go much beyond proficiency in the skill. You train to saw a board or hammer a nail. You can't become a more technical board sawyer or nail-pounder. You either can or you can't. You can either do arithmetic, read a book, write a paragraph in standard English, or you can't. That's the essential of training.

Colleges are the doorway to learning. You go to a college/university and the way to more information is opened to you. You may pass or fail the course, but how much you come away with after the exposure is up to you. There is no limit to education.

In pilot training it was training. We learned about standardized education. The basics are that you determine what is to be trained, then establish a standard of satisfactory performance and finally evaluate whether the trainee can meet the standard. It is important to have objective standards and quantifiable measurements. This is exactly what K-12 education is supposed to do.

Let's take basic addition for example. You might establish an objective as, "Student will be able to add a column of six or more four-digit numbers." The standard might be, "90% of students will be able to find correct answer 90% of the time." Now you create an examination of several addition problems to evaluate your objective.

How can you argue with that?

Lot of folks do, don't they? How many times have you heard the gripes about "teaching to the test"? Ever heard the one about, "teachers are forced to prepare students for the state test and don't have time to teach the important stuff"? Or maybe, "my child can't take the pressure of having to perform on exams"?

Isn't life a continual exam? Isn't your job a constant measure of your training? If you've established meaningful objectives and a standard for measuring achievement the essential job of a teacher IS teaching to the test.

How about this tidbit from Atlanta:

Cheating Party Saturday Night at My House!

Notice the bleating from the unions about "fairness"? Is it fair to the children who don't get educated?

But, not to be outdone by the modern metropolitan system of Atlanta, the Dallas suburb of Desoto is now dealing with this:

Sole Finalist for Super Fails First Day

That's right, folks. No one was in the final round of competition she was so impressive in the interview. They hired her without a glance at the smell of the news coming out of Atlanta.

She was the number two (no pun intended) in the Atlanta school system. She had to have been a part of it. Yet the Desoto ISD Board of Education can't deal with the simple termination for cause that seems indicated here. She is hired. She reports. She goes on PAID leave. And they can't figure out what to do.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grow Up and Get a Job

You've probably heard about "planking." It's a fad that started in Australia/New Zealand. The idea is to take a picture of someone laying face down, stiffly horizontal with your arms by your side. Do it in the most unusual place you can think of then post it to Facebook or YouTube. The world will beat a path through your door and you will be famous and in demand at all the swanky parties...or not.

Now planking has come to America and we are nothing if not the vapidity leaders of the free world. Talk about mindless:

Owling Is the New Planking

At least they aren't wasting a lot of time with books or professional development.

Saturday Morning Rocker

I'm ambivalent about Steely Dan, but sometimes their sound soothes:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Of Course! That's It!

It isn't about the jobs. It isn't about the debt. It isn't about the future. It isn't about the legal obligation to have a budget for the government. It's about...

Race! 

This pony isn't even "one trick" any more.

Seems Logical to Me

We've reached the point in our progressive tax structure for federal income tax in America where 51% of Americans pay no federal income tax. Some of those even get an "Earned Income Tax Credit" which is political double-talk for a refund when you don't earn any income in the first place so there is nothing withheld. The legerdemain comes from refunding Social Security and Medicare payments so that the burden of those costs are also borne by the rest of the population.

So, if you ask American whether they are in favor of raising taxes to fund more government redistribution programs it isn't unusual to get this outcome from a poll:

55% Oppose Higher Taxes

That actually means a few people really don't know that they aren't paying taxes in the first place. Maybe they are smart enough, however, to deduce that taking more money out of a citizen's pocket will not fuel a robust economy.

How then can the Bamster stand up and with a straight face palm off this whopper?

Really! 80% of Americans Want to Send Me More Money!

Do facts actually mean anything to the man?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tone Deaf Oblivion

You couldn't make this stuff up:

National Bankruptcy Looms. Birthday Bash Plans Expand.

This is like FDR attending a Bund rally in 1943. Doesn't he have a PR person to say, "I recommend delaying your gratification, your majesty."

Bastille Day

Remember Bastille Day:

"Respect an Establishment" or "Free Exercise Thereof"?

There are two distinct clauses in the First Amendment's dealing with religious freedom. One stops government favoritism of a religion. It goes beyond prohibiting "establishment" of a state religion such as the Church of England or Islam in Iran. It prohibits "respecting" an establishment which generally means supporting or abetting one religion over another. If a law exempts religious facilities from certain taxes, then it does so for all recognizable religions not just one flavor.

The second phrase deals with individuals. It insures that government action won't restrict free citizens from practicing their own worship rituals. There are obvious limits such as ceremonies involving the tossing of virgins into volcanoes, but with the shortage of both in the US that hasn't been problematic.

Now consider this:

Wisconsin Group Seeks Injunction Against Texas Prayer

Most folks know that when it comes to religion I refer to myself as a "recovering Catholic." I grew up in a religious home and my education up to college was in Catholic schools. It served me well, but the ritual and changing moral standards along with the apparent hypocrisy of a visible few of the clergy has left me pretty much out of the retail religion business. I eschew the intermediaries and when I seek divine guidance I tend to go direct. I also respect those who walk a different path. They are welcome to interact with their deities under their own terms. I've got no dog in their hunt.

But I've got a lot of questions about this story.

The governor of Texas is undeniably conservative and undeniably seeks support from what has become identified as the religious right. He is Christian, he prays and he is a potential Presidential contender.

The nation is in a time of turmoil and he has chosen to support a PRIVATELY sponsored prayer rally. It is in Texas and all who wish to attend are welcome. It is funded by recognized non-governmental entities. No one is compelled to attend. Any who wish to ignore it may freely exercise that privilege.

How does a group in Wisconsin gain standing to bring suit against a group of believers in Texas gathering to pray for their nation? There are certainly no federal tax dollars involved. In fact, there are no state tax dollars incurred beyond the governor's routine security expenses which would exist regardless. Where is their tort?

Is this Presidential politics? Is this selective outrage? And, how does this compare to Rev. Jeremiah Wright?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

After-Action Report

Three nights in Dallas with a top-tier restaurant scheduled for each of them.

First night was in-house at the Ritz-Carlton. Fearing's is Dean Fearing's place after Ritz lured him away from the Mansion at Turtle Creek.

Fearing's

The menu is a fusion of classic continental with Southwest influences. Since we're great fans of the SW cuisine of Santa Fe, it looked like a sure bet. Foie gras and crab cake appetizer for me then a roast breast of pheasant.

Night two was Stephan Pyles stand-alone restaurant. Pyles has long been recognized as a landmark of Dallas fine dining. The restaurant  is modern, glass and tile clearly meant to contrast with places like the traditional and stodgy French Room at the Adolphus Hotel.

Stephan Pyles

Again the cuisine is billed as Southwestern. First course was the signature tamale tart and then a "surf and turf" offering of a tenderloin filet and a "chicken-fried" lobster. A high point was an introduction to a winery that I had not previously encountered, Wrath Vineyards. A rich, full-bodied syrah was possibly the start of a beautiful friendship if I can get more of the limited production offerings.

Night three was Charlie Palmer's at the Joule. The Joule is a boutique hotel on Main Street Dallas and a treasure chest of modern art and decorating. The restaurant was even more impressive than the hotel lobby.

Charlie Palmer at the Joule

The decor is designed around wind and the power of wind energy. The ceiling focuses on six huge "fans" which are art and not air circulation. Fifteen foot diameter blades rotate ever-so-slowly creating kinetic sculpture. The walls feature a set of eight large art pieces based on wind and famous literary linkages to wind. Here is the one from just above our table. Can you figure out the story?


Dinner was seared foie gras on pineapple upside down cake for a first course followed by a bleu cheese crusted filet with Armagnac reduction. I seldom make it to dessert, but the offering of a pecan tart with bourbon whipped cream was enough to get my attention.

A neat feature in concept, but not quite mature in execution was an e-winelist presented on a tablet computer. You choose type (red/white/rose/bubbly) then pick a region, varietal, winery and/or price range. The tablet delivers the choices and you can check wines of interest to build a list for yourself and to discuss with the somellier. The problem was that you really didn't get to browse and for someone who was not already fairly wine-savvy it could be restrictive and intimidating. It makes it difficult to stumble upon new varietals or offerings from unfamiliar regions. The waiter agreed and said he has many customers who ask for the traditional paper wine list. Still, it is something for the future.

Of the three night bacchanal, SWMBO and I agreed that Charlie Palmer's was the best experience on all fronts--ambience, service, staff, presentation and food. Fearing's was a disappointment with too much smoke in the flavors and way too many contrasting notes piled upon the plate. The informal short-sleeved striped shirt "uniforms" of the wait-staff seemed out of place for the Ritz. Stephan Pyles was similarly steeped in smoky flavor and noisy. Both were definitely up-scale but the perfection was at Palmer's.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Darwin Cheated

I've never been that big into having a souvenir baseball for my mantel. Sure, when I attend a ball game I think it might be neat if as the culmination of an act of self-defense I found a baseball in my hand. One Rockies game the guy I was with snagged a ball that came our way down the right field line just past first base. We were on ground level and the ball got deflected and he snagged it on the rebound. Before I even was aware that he had it he had done the same thing I would have. He gave it to a ten year old boy who was three seats down from us.

When you are in the upper deck and particularly in the front row along the railing it doesn't make sense to go lunging forward for a baseball. It should make even less sense in the light of the tragedy at the Ballpark in Arlington four days ago.

Fan Cheats the Reaper at Home Run Derby

The Ranger game tragedy was a man trying to reap a souvenir for his son. This was a man with his friends collecting balls. It wasn't a once in a lifetime thrill. It was a calculated exercise in greed. There is very little doubt in my mind that there was quite a bit of ten-buck a pint beer involved.

Darwin got cheated this time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

La Dolce Vita

I seldom scrimp when taking a few days off, but this time I think I've over-done it. I am now officially spoiled for all future travels. The idea for this summer was rather than a marathon two-week or so vacation road trip we would do several shorter three or four day excursions. The first was last month when we returned to one of our favorites, Santa Fe. I reported on the Inn of the Anasazi and a couple of the great dining experiences.

This month it is a business/pleasure excursion to nearby Dallas. After nearly six years in Texoma we've never really spent any time in downtown Big D. We wanted to hit some fine restaurants and not have to face the 90 mile drive home afterward. When SWMBO got the opportunity to attend a continuing education conference on autism, we started planning.

Here is where we are:

Puttin' On the Ritz

The deal clincher when shopping for a place to stay among the legendary hotels downtown was the special of three nights for the price of two at the club level. If you're a Motel 6 fan, don't ask. But if you appreciate what spending a few bucks can get you, this is an amazing experience.

What does "club level" mean?

It is a special amenities floor. The rooms are a premium price compared to non-club level, but when it becomes three for two you suddenly find yourself in the lap of luxury for less.

Free valet parking. Incredible staff and service. The "club" offers free continental breakfast, snacks, hors d'oeuvres all day, more snacks and wine at close of business and finally after-dinner drinks and sweets at bed-time. Five different layouts all day long. Last night after dinner we sipped Remy Martin cognac with beautiful petits fours and chocalates. All comped.

Dinner was at Fearing's in the hotel. Dean  Fearing is the master chef who essentially elevated the legendary Mansion at Turtle Creek to Mobil Five Diamond status with his restaurant there. His move to the Ritz-Carlton has cost the Mansion and boosted the Ritz.

Tonight it will be Stephan Pyle's, another Dallas top restaurant. And, as a guest at the club level, we get a free ride to and from the restaurant a couple of miles away in the hotel's complimentary Bentley. That's top drawer.

Neatest thing I've seen in the hotel?

How about a television built into the mirror in the bathroom? Yep! While you shave you can be watching the news embedded in the full wall over-the-sink mirror.

Life is good.

UPDATE: Life just got better still. It's 11:30 AM now and after the newspaper and cappucino, I'm browsing and blogging in the club room and the concierge just brought me a frosty, chilled glass of champagne. Spontaneously, not asked for, just part of the treatment. YGBSM!

Still Drawing Raves

The release of the trade paperback edition of Fighter Pilot in May has started another round of reviews and they keep getting better:

Fighter Pilot Tells The Story

It is rewarding when a great man's life is recognized.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Even the Dallas Morning News Noticed

My default major metro newspaper by virtue of where I live is the liberal leaning, but not quite outrageously so, Dallas Morning News. I grouse about their inability to exercise even minimal editorial oversight of their Letters to the Editor virtually every day. I don't advocate censorship of reader comments, but unless they are simply trying to highlight the ignorance of their readers it would seem prudent not to publish many of the baseless assertions which are put forth in support of you-know-who in Washington. If a reader writes absurd fairy tales that have long been debunked maybe they shouldn't make the cut for publication or maybe there should be a brief editor's comment correcting the falsehood.

To their credit, however, the DMN does a regular column called "Fact Checker" which takes statements in public debate of prominent political figures and subjects them to scrutiny. Even the Bamster gets the treatment and his whoppers are usually minimized if not totally debunked. The DMN tries not to make their Messiah look too buffoonish.

They went after Texas Sen. John Cornyn's statement a few days ago that we've finally reached a majority of Americans who pay zero federal income tax. To counter the bleats of the left that the successful need to pay their fair share, Cornyn pointed out the absurdity of half the population not paying anything but reaping the payouts. Here is what they found:

51% Don't Pay Uncle Sam a Dime

They twisted it, they turned it, and they couldn't make it come out any different. Maybe there is hope for the DMN yet. And maybe it gets a bit easier to understand why the Republican majority in the House is so adamant that there must be spending cuts without increasing income taxes on those few who still pay something.

Stunningly, it is the GOP that wants the successful to pay their fair share more so than the Dems.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Angus, Don't Even Think About It

Puppy Angus, over at Warrior Class and Murphy at Lagniappe's Lair might think twice before challenging Inua Tikaani (Ghost Leader of the Wolf Pack) for his squirrel.

Doing the Math

The Democrats seem to be in a state of civil war over the budget and debt reductions. The cliche about when you find yourself in a deepening hole you should stop digging is not in their repertoire. The Bamster seems to recognize that the 2010 election outcome and the will of the working people in America demands that we cut the redistribution spending and reduce taxes to get people back to real private sector jobs. The rank-and-file in the legislature doesn't seem eager to forego their power to send the wagons into their districts to distribute bread and invite the voters to the Circus Maximus. They still want to tax the successful and give to the failures of life.

WaPo Outlines Dem Budget Plan

When you stumble over seemingly outrageous numbers it is often a good idea to do a bit of simple math. Try this example for starters:
It would also scale back the array of tax breaks and deductions known as tax expenditures, perhaps by focusing on the wealthiest households, which claim an average of $205,000 in tax breaks each year on average income of $1.1 million.
OK, that sounds like a real abuse of the deductions doesn't it? Grabbing a reduction of your gross income of more than $200k is a lot. Now, consider that it means that the $1.1 M gets reduced to $900,000 and you're getting upset that these fat cats can't give up those deductions and pay their fair share!

But, then notice that with a marginal tax rate of 39.6% they will be coughing up in the neighborhood of  $350,000. Throw in some state income tax and some self-employment tax and maybe a FICA contribution and it gets a bit harder to maintain the argument about "paying their fair share", doesn't it?

Now, take that tool and go forth to spread the gospel.

Only the Good Die Young

It was going to be a classic outing. The father and son go to the ball-park together. He is a firefighter, well respected in his community and advancing in his profession. The son is eight-years old and looking forward to that dream of every youngster, being in the stands and catching a souvenir baseball. Dad stops on the way to the ballpark and buys a new glove so that he is prepared.

It is just the first inning and a foul-ball comes arcing toward them. Dad rises to make the catch but misses and the ball drops to the field. Then the dream begins to come true. The son's hero, left-fielder Josh Hamilton last year's American League MVP, scoops up the ball and in a well-meaning gesture tosses it up into the stands.

That's when the dream becomes a nightmare. Dad reaches out to grab the ball but it is just out of reach and in the process he loses his balance and tumbles more than twenty feet head-first to the concrete below. A fan tries to grab him but can't hold on. Other fans shield the son. Medical response is rapid but the father dies enroute to the hospital.

Nothing can replace the father or erase that horrible memory from the son. Nothing can measure the feelings that Josh Hamilton must be experiencing. Nothing can wind back the time to those blissful moments before the fall. But, in a class gesture, the Rangers are trying to do something good. It will never be enough, but it is well meant.

Rangers Establish Fund, Express Grief, Respond to Tragedy

It is a very sad story.

Saturday Morning Rocker

A mellow memory:

Friday, July 08, 2011

Spin Doctor Throws Knuckleball

This knuckler doesn't spin at all. It is wishful thinking and living in a fantasy world.

Ploufe Says Unemployment Won't Matter to Re-election

I'm a strong believer in the economic principle that a government cannot "create" a job. They can offer make-work, like having the yard-birds paint the rocks white along the pathways, but it is free enterprise and the private sector that creates a vibrant labor market. A low tax structure, reasonable regulatory environment, and confidence that your capital will not be confiscated by the government tomorrow is what creates jobs.

This President can't create jobs no matter how hard he asserts that he can. He can only stifle growth and he has seemed hell-bent on doing that.
Ronald Reagan, another president Obama is sometimes compared with, was reelected in 1984 when unemployment was 7.2 percent. Obama isn’t likely to see a number that low.
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, predicts the nation will have added 110,000 jobs in total in June, with 125,000 added in the private sector. Hiring by the public sector will continue to fall.
The economy would have to add 350,000 jobs every month between now and December 2014 to get back to the pre-recession low of 5 percent unemployment, last seen in December 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
Reagan saw that kind of growth after the recession of the early 1980s, and it helped him win reelection by a comfortable 18 points. 
The important thing to remember about that period is that Reagan took office with mortgage rates at 18% and inflation over 22%. Within 18 months he passed the largest tax rate reduction since JFK despite being hampered with a hostile Democratic-controlled Congress. They gleefully spent the newly generated revenue, but the nation was working and once again confident in the future.

Reagan also stood up as proud to be an American, confident in the correctness of our direction and proud of our moral standing in the world. He rebuilt the military, drove the Soviet Union into bankruptcy and collapse, and left a legacy that will be difficult to equal.

Obama has shown not the slightest inclination to move at all in those directions. Mr. Ploufe's spin isn't spinning. It is wobbling erratically toward the plate and will be very hard to catch.

Every Picture Tells a Story

The headline shouldn't be a surprise to anybody except the Bamster, the Veep, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Anybody outside of the party hierarchy and/or inside the business community would expect it. You can't threaten taxes, impose restrictive and arbitrary regulations, redistribute wealth to the unproductive and foster an unstable global economy while still creating jobs.

The monthly report shows few jobs created and the acknowledged unemployment rate up to 9.2%.

But that isn't what this item is about. This is about this picture. It says a lot about why we are where we are today. Can you read the story told here:
What do I see? 

The good news is that I see a nuclear family. I see a male who didn't hit and run when responsibility arose. 

But what are the negatives? 

Who is at the computer? Who is seeking a job? Who apparently has the computer skills to access the opportunity databases? 

How is he dressed? You aren't a credible job seeker with your hat on backwards, your three day beard, your designer glasses jauntily on the back of your head. Holding the baby while mama looks for work and you can't wait to get back to the couch or chilling with your homies isn't feeding the baby or the bulldog. 

We've got a society without class, without awareness, without training or ambition or skills. And the exception here in the picture is that at least he stuck around. 

Every picture tells a story, don't it?