Friday, December 31, 2010

And Their Point Would Be?

There is considerable difference between what is good and what is good for you. Anyone over the age of ten knows that. The food police of the current administration are reaching their well-toned, well-exercised, well-massaged, properly fed arms out to impose upon us the good habits which will help us to live long lives of indentured servitude in their benevolent administrations. We shall be protected against salt, sugar, fat and things that taste good whether we like it or not.

WSJ Writer Notes What's Good

When I see groups with righteous sounding titles like "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" I immediately know that they are asses that are up to no good.
The "Physicians Committee" isn't quite the disinterested purveyor of health information that one might assume from the newspaper articles. The organization was founded to promote animal rights, and its horror of bacon and butter has less to do with concern over our arteries than with dismay at the grisly fate of pigs and the unjust captivity of cows. The committee's diet of choice isn't just vegetarian, but vegan. And their advice isn't so much scientific as it is moralistic—
That is a group which I would not like to go to dinner with. They probably don't drink beer either.

History Not Rewritten

I change my thinking occasionally. I try to maintain a balanced outlook and I don't paint with a broad brush. All Republicans are not good and wise. All Democrats are not pandering and venal. There are degrees on both sides of the aisle and unlike the ideological purists I don't consider "moderates" as unprincipled.

That being said, I recognized during the seemingly endless days of the last presidential campaign that the possibility existed that a Democrat could be elected. Within that context I was forced to make a judgment of which of the candidates from the left would be most tolerable. Clearly there were a couple that I view as simply unqualified or total buffoons. (To be honest, that was true of the bull-pen on the right as well!)

One of the Democrats which I thought might not hurt me too badly was Bill Richardson. He had worked in a broad range of jobs at the state and federal level. He had been in the Congress, served in the State Department with Kissinger, had private sector corporate experience, held a couple of Cabinet positions, been UN Ambassador, and was governor of a western state. He had a resume and he didn't sound like a Chomsky/Alinsky parrot. He would be the best of a range of bad outcomes. Little did I know at the time how bad the outcome might be!

But, then I had some discussions with a long-time friend who happened to also be a US Attorney. There I became privy to some of the pending charges of corruption against the governor. The charges went away with the election of Obama and the installation of AG Holder, but the facts of the case remain.

Then there was the off-the-reservation trip last month to North Korea. I'm sorry, but what is a state governor doing in Pyongyang? Who is he representing? Who does he speak for? Where is his portfolio?

Now we had this little publicity gambit. The outcome apparently is decided and I agree with it. But the rationale seems to have been little more than getting a lot of headlines for Bill:

Billy the Kid Still Guilty!

If you pass down Highway 380 from Roswell to Socorro, take a moment to stop in Lincoln and visit the Tunstall store pictured here:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Inevitable Outcome

The concept of a union is fairly basic and at one time there was arguable justification. Workers were at the mercy of greedy capitalists, aka the "owners of the means of production." The factory owner could demand outrageous effort and dictate unreasonable compensation under the threat of dismissal. There was no reason to provide safe working conditions if that would hamper production or increase overall operating costs. Upton Sinclair's 1906 book, "The Jungle", about conditions in the Chicago stockyards is illustrative of the time.

By unionizing the workers could present a single face to negotiate for better wages and conditions. They provided a counter-balance to the singular power of the owners. All well and good if you are talking about late 19th and early 20th century. The two-class society described by Marx was very apparent.

Time, however, has changed things. The emergence of the middle class, which Marx apparently never envisioned, means that ownership is not exclusive to a vested wealthy bourgeoisie. Workers rise in the corporate world to management. Profit-sharing plans allow employees to be a part of the enterprise. Investments let shareholders participate in management decisions. It isn't a us-or-them environment anymore. Yet, unions persist in the north and east of this nation. Despite the decline of the industrial base that can clearly be linked to the outrageous demands of the unions which drive wages and benefits without regard to profit or value of labor. The unions still wield power.

The market compels a company to provide a competitive wage. Common sense leads owners to conclude that keeping an experienced worker is less costly than training a series of beginners to replace him. Workplace safety is under public scrutiny and failures will impact the bottom line. If company A provides a package of benefits, company B will need to offer similar attractions to compete effectively in the labor market.

So, where do unions look for their power today? If competitive business finds it easier to operate in areas without unions making outrageous demands, then the only place to organize workers and milk the coffers of the employer is the public sector.

That simply doesn't make sense, does it? Government doesn't seek profit. There is no motivation for government to oppress workers. Why would workers need to unite for protection against the very government which they fund for public goods? It isn't about protection anymore. It is the Willie Sutton response to "Why do you rob banks?" His correct reply was, "Because that's where the money is."

Now this:

Pad the Overtime, Skip the Streets, Make the City Pay

Reports are now trickling in of deaths as a result of this malfeasance. Dissatisfaction by the residents of the city and demands for legal recourse are being raised.

This was a snow storm. What about police and fire protection? What about health and sanitation issues? What will be the next manifestation of the venality of the modern public employees union?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Do You Know For Sure?

It is a conundrum. We are deluged with information. It is all at our fingertips and yet we have become quite apparently a lot more ignorant.

We could easily become more informed, more rational, more logical. We choose however to be more opinionated, more cantankerous, more aggressive in denial. We read what reinforces us and ignore what we don't  agree with. If it is on the Internet, it must be true. If it is supported by links to other statements we take it as whole cloth etched upon the brow of Zeus.

Here's a spot from The Other McCain that highlights the syndrome:

Anatomy of an Online Hoax

It is quite easy. "No one knows you are a dog." You sit in your basement surrounded by empty pizza boxes and crushed cans of Mountain Dew, still in your pajamas and chopping away at your greasy keyboard. You've got all the credibility of a State Departments spokesperson or a New York Times reporter. Well, I guess that isn't a good comparison any more, is it?

I try to get my students to question things. Rather than sit and be indoctrinated I would rather see them challenge ideas and statements. I use prepared PowerPoint presentations from the course textbook during classes. The textbook isn't my choice. A faculty committee of the college selects and quite often that selection is driven by default publisher offerings and profit margins for the bookstore. We get a voice, but it isn't a very loud one.

As a result, I tend to be a bit oppositional to what is the default ideological position of the textbook authors. I'm a free-market, fiscal conservative and a proud American. We've all got a pretty good idea what the tenured university PhD textbook author is ideologically.

So, when we get charts and graphs that imply certain conclusions I am not averse to dismantling the underlying assumptions. Does this really say what it seems to?

My favorite, and possibly easiest, is the weeping criticism of Texas public education. The chart is in every textbook on state/local government I've ever seen. Texas ranks either 49th or 50th in per-capita spending on K-12 education among the states. OMG! The sky is falling!

Does that say a thing about the quality of education?

First, I have to get my college students to recognize that "per-capita" means per individual so that normalizes the differences in size between the states. Duh!

Then pointing out that states with the highest spending are among those with the worst performance on achievement tests, noting the significant differences in cost-of-living, and dollars do not equate with learning to finish the argument. There are measures of quality of educational outcome, but spending isn't relevant.

Question everything. Take nothing at face value. Research sources. "Trust but verify!"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Ve Haf De Power!!!!"

Making those who don't stay properly compliant suffer is a key component of totalitarian government. Increasingly we see evidence of the heavy hand of the federal government flexing around the necks of Americans who dare to question policy.

I know a lot of airline pilots and most of them that I know are former military and gun enthusiasts. That means several things to me and all of them seem pretty reassuring. There are very few equivalent training programs to prepare a pilot for the responsibilities of airline work. The training, experience, and qualifications of military service all indicate a safe flight in my future. These folks know about the Constitution, appreciate the Second Amendment, and have been trained to be competent and comfortable with firearms. That means the Federal Flight Deck Officer program seems a natural for them.

So, we've got trained and competent people. They are armed in the cockpit. They are at the controls of the jet with the power of life or death in their hands. They have a strong interest in security and safety. They have a bloody battle ax anchored to the cockpit wall for emergency use.

How ludicrous is it then to require these professionals to take their shoes off and surrender their nail-clippers to pass through the terminal to get to their aircraft? Baggage handlers? Not so much. All you need is an ID card to get to the ramp. Anybody's ID card will do. There's no one to check.

So, he says the Empress of TSA is naked and he does it without resorting to a full body scanner. Does he compromise anything that we all didn't already know? Hardly.

The solution? Six armed federal goons with a dog come to his home to confiscate his FFDO firearm and suspend his authority. And, for good measure, the county sheriff rescinds his concealed carry permit!

That should improve security at SFO!


This is not something the average bear can do!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Challenging Inconvenient Truth

Gotta love it! Don't pay any attention to the science behind the curtain, the Great Oz commands it!

Snow, Ice, Freezing Temps Caused by Warming!

You going to believe me or your lying eyes?


History was made last night. It seems innocuous enough unless you are an older fan like me. Then you remember the "Frozen Tundra" of Green Bay in the 1967 Ice Bowl NFC playoff game. Who can forget Vince Lombardi prowling the sideline and the goal line stand as Ray Nitchzke dug into the icy ground trying to anchor himself against the charging line of the Dallas Cowboys. Men were men and history was made then.

Now they play indoors except for a few places like Green Bay and Chicago. Even in warmer climes they play inside so that the fans can enjoy air conditioned comfort. That works until the pretty little air-supported roof comes crashing down with the weight of a snow storm as it did last month in Minnesota or gets ripped asunder as it did in New Orleans during Katrina.

But for most real old-time fans, football is a fall/winter game and that means it gets played in ice and snow when least until last night. That's when history was again made in Philadelphia.

NFL Game Cancelled Because of Snow Yet Unfallen

Yes, the accumulation eventually came, but at game time last night there was only an inch or two on the ground. What does this mean for the future?

This season the Tuesday game means a short interval for two teams until the season finale game next week. For Minnesota it doesn't matter, but for Phillie it definitely does. For future years it means that a precedent has been set. Too much rain or snow or cold or heat in the forecast? Let's finagle the schedule.

Oh, and at the bottom line, all future franchise discussions will hinge upon the availability of a properly built hard-dome stadium with temperature control, heated surface parking lots and year round comfort assured for all players. College stadiums will have to follow suit in order to protect their fans, avoid litigation, and nurture the next crop of pampered millionaire athletes. Where will we get a future Rayfield Wright, Bob Lilly, Forrest Gregg or Bart Starr? My God, even Lance "Bambi" Rentzel played in the cold.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Death Panels Redux

They wailed, they denied, they explained, but it still stuck. The Obamacare law was pretty clear. The perfect way to "contain costs" and "bend the cost curve" is to control spending. The best way to control spending is to ration care. The best way to ration care is to deny it to elderly who have a poor prognosis. If a hip replacement will give you two more years of mobility but you are already 85 years old, maybe that isn't a good investment as far as the government is concerned.

Medicine can prolong life. That is a primary purpose. There is a point at which such prolongation is futile, but I would like to have some voice in that decision. If I can't speak for myself then let it be SWMBO and my doctors. But, please don't let it be some Kathleen Sebelius appointed bureaucrat thumbing through a dog-eared loose-leaf manual of policy guidelines.

In the debate, the bureaucratic controlled approach was labeled as government death panels. The terminology is harsh, but what else could they be called? Someone from government is going to be detached, unemotional, and uninformed applying cost control guidelines to determine if you live or die.

In a rare moment of responsiveness to public outrage during the healthcare debate, the death panel provisions were deleted from the 2600 page legislative prescription.

Did that deter the Bamster from his quest to control your very life? It doesn't seem so:

Can't Legislate? Regulate! Yes We Can!

The early report is that the opening session of the 112th Congress will begin with a reading of the United States Constitution. Let us hope that the reader will offer some rhetorical emphasis on the concepts of our national government as one of limits. Let us hope that the reader will stress the role of the legislature in making the policy and not the executive branch. Let us hope that the function of legislative oversight of executive branch over-reaching will be mentioned. Let us fervently pray that the ability of the Supreme Court to declare such over-reach unconstitutional will be considered.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm At a Loss

I try to stay away from crude language here. I've always viewed certain words as the Hallmark of vocabulary. They are reserved for when "you care enough to send the very best." When you use them day in and day out they lose their impact and they reflect a certain lack of language skill on the speaker's part. But reading this piece leaves me at the level of WTF!

Principal Seeks Parental Permission Slips for Pledge

The essence of the story isn't remarkable today. But the totality of the item is what boggles the mind:
Attached to the letter was a form that asked parents to check either: "Yes, my child will participate in the weekly Pledge of Allegiance" or "No, my child will not participate in the weekly Pledge of Allegiance."
If you read that quickly you might miss the "WEEKLY"! What happened to daily?
The school also sent parents a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance along with a note that defined the words "under God" as meaning "there is one Supreme entity for every citizen."
Only in 21st Century America would we have to send a copy of the text to the parents so they would know what was being talked about. Only in America would a principal be unaware that the words "under God" weren't a part of the Pledge until 1954. And only in America would there be the expectation that every citizens gets their own Supreme entity!
"It's uncomfortable," Judi Puritz Cook told the Local Wicked newspaper. "The pledge is a promise, and I've always taught my kids to think very carefully before making any promise. It's not a decision I want to make for them."
Now that is some real modern American parenting for you! She teaches them the importance of a promise. Giving your words means something! But she isn't comfortable with making the decision that her bloody offspring would be loyal to their country! 
But it only gets better:
Under state law, teachers are required to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every school day. Those who fail to do so for at least two weeks could face fines of up to five dollars. "It's never been enforced,” Lupini said. "We will not be fining anyone."

See how that works in MA? The state law mandates daily, but the principle is teaching the students not only to be unpatriotic, but also to be scoff-laws. Aren't you feeling particularly proud? 

Cause and Effect?

Census data released yesterday provided very little that was surprising. The US is growing, but growth is slowing. That's a result of our reduced fecundity. We don't have large families like we used to.

We already knew that there would be shifts in population between the states. That's the whole purpose of the census; to apportion representation in the legislature. Initially, the House of Representatives awarded a seat to roughly 17,500 persons in a state. As states grew in numbers and populations grew, so did the size of the legislature. When it reached more than 500 members a limit was set. That limit is NOT in the Constitution. It is currently at 435 and just like the unspecified membership of the Supreme Court, is not likely to be changed without an incredible battle. Those 435 seats are apportioned between the states based on their population, but no state can have less than one representative. There are still a small group that applies to such as Rhode Island, Delaware, Wyoming and Alaska. Currently it takes about 900,000 population to get a representative.

Patterns of movement are logical and expected. Aging, corrupt, rust-belt states of the north and east have lost population. Growing, business-friendly, low tax, low cost-of-living states to the south and west have gained. Might this be a factor:

States With No State Income Tax Grow Faster

That hardly seems like rocket science to make that connection. Don't conclude that no income tax means exceptionally low state and local tax burden. It may not. Local government services still have costs and they must be paid. Sales tax, property tax, licensing and regulatory fees will make up the difference. The critical factor, however, is that those alternative tax forms are not progressive. They don't penalize hard work, entrepreneurial risk and personal effort.

Among the winners in the representation divvy is Texas. Most estimates predicted we would gain two or three Congressional seats. We actually got FOUR!

Now, we've got the pending redistricting. How do you take 32 congressional districts and make them into 36? Each must have approximately the same population. Incumbents will want to keep their seats. Parties will want to increase their power. Legislatures will be concerned with future majorities. Presidential electoral votes will be considered.

The posturing was already evident in the morning Fishwrap. Hispanic caucus, LULAC, and NAACP spokescritters are already predicting the districts to benefit their groups.

We'll Gain...NO! We'll Gain

Will the courts mandate majority-minority consideration in redistricting? Will prior mandates apply? Can you carve out Latino districts without unintended consequences of also reducing Latino influence in existing districts? It isn't always that clear. And, if you draw a district to capture a Hispanic majority based on ethnic identification will it actually have legal citizens? Will they be registered to vote? Will they actually vote?

As for increased black representation, that seems unlikely in Texas. We currently have four African-American representatives. The black percentage of the population in the nation hovers near 16-18%. In Texas, African-Americans comprise roughly 12% and that percentage has been constant, unlike the Latino community which is growing rapidly. The number crunch would indicate that we won't see more black reps from Texas.

Prediction? Four new seats = three Republican and one Democrat.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Immediately Increased Capability

Within a day or two it has become clear. Repeal of DADT was the right thing to do. It has resulted in an immediate return on the investment as this WikiLeaks leak demonstrates:

Girls Result in Honor Killings. Boys Not So Much

Now when these uncomfortable situations arise while dealing with a Pashtun policeman or security force member, we can have the necessary understanding and compassion to accept it.

I'm feeling so much better about the whole situation now.

Defining Paranoia

It is easy. Paranoia is named Assange.

How duplicitous must one be to make statements that accuse friends and foes alike as being out to get you? How hypocritical is someone who leaks more than a million classified documents to the public without discrimination regarding the damage they might cause and then whines that news sources are leaking information damaging to him?

Why Doesn't Everyone Love Me?

Was he surprised that when he was arrested he would be in a prison with disreputable people? Was he shocked that with a warrant out for his arrest from Sweden that the details of the charges might be publicized? He's "not promiscuous" he just likes women...even if they aren't too hot for him, apparently.

He blackmails Bank of America with threats of a document dump, then when BOA suffers financial damage through declining stock prices he is astounded that they aren't supporting him.

This is a man with some serious problems.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

From Facebook

"Bob on the FOB" offers a collection of fine art depicting the modern military in pseudo-combat:

OK to Tell! OK to Ask?

I served on active duty with some gay guys. One remarkable one in particular was very successful in the military as a career fighter pilot. We flew together in training and in combat. I never had a suspicion until many years later. His orientation was essentially irrelevant. He rose to very high rank and performed admirably throughout his long career.

I served with others about whom I harbored suspicions, but never had an issue and all of them did the job without problems. In other words, the system has been fine. Of course it is technically flawed. There are conflicts involved when an individual must repress who they really are and inherently is force to lie about themselves in order to preserve their career. That is unfortunate.

There is still a question about whether or not the military at large is ready and able to deal with openly gay troops. While many are understanding and accepting, the reality is that a lot of the military originates from a societal level and a cultural background which is not so tolerant. Are we at a point in our cultural development where that is not a detriment to an effective military?

Senate Passes DADT Repeal. Bamster Gets to Crow

As with most of the recent acts of our legislature, there seems to be a total disconnect between the fantasy of their agenda and the reality of the world. The weasel-wording of their language provides an incredible range of possible outcomes and a flexibility to make things mean whatever the interpreter wants them to mean at the moment:
Under the bill, the president and his top military advisers must first certify that lifting the ban won't hurt troops' ability to fight.
How is that going to work? We start with a legislature comprised of 535 persons, more than 90% of whom have never served in the military imposing their judgment on the corps for political purposes, now we ask the President who has even less relationship to "certify" something he knows absolutely zero about.

If the phrase "top military advisors" means CJCS Mullen and SecDef Gates, they will mouth whatever he needs them to say. If the phrase means the four service chiefs, they testified last week and all four of them stated clearly that the service was not ready to take this step without serious degradation of our combat capability. Hard to ignore that.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Powerful Stuff

Last night Netflix viddie-on-demand served up Restrepo at my house. I was awed by it.

The quality of the filming was impressive and the relating of the embedded combat tour without embellishment or judgment made it an Academy Award contender. Possibly the most moving scene was near the end of the movie  when the camera slowly panned up the back of one of the soldiers from boot to helmet stained with the blood of his brother-in-arms.

The saddest moment though came at the very end when a simple frame of text displayed for only about twenty seconds. It calmly declared that in the Spring of 2009 the administration chose to abandon the Korengal Outpost. Yep, that's what these men fought and died for, Bamster. But, they aren't many votes are they?

Saturday Morning Rocker(s)

Many thanks to Billy Beck for pointing me at this:

And this too:

Friday, December 17, 2010

What You Already Knew

You've known all along. Your lipstick will be confiscated and your nail clippers can't travel, but guns and bombs? Not so much.

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket or Are You Happy to See Me? 

Fortunately no Sperry Docksiders slipped through.

Pending Assault on Freedom

Would someone kindly pull the plug on the UN?

I know that they have offered a forum for international communication. I know that they have allowed for establishment of important standards on things like international aviation and maritime issues. I know that the UN was instrumental in effectively stamping out smallpox globally. I know they occasionally have been a positive force for stability in war-torn regions.

But much more often they are a bunch of tiny tails trying to wag the big dogs for their own benefit. They are a global forum for propaganda and mind-control. They are a drain on the resources of productive modern nations and an unrepresentative community of specialized narrow interests.

First Amendment Attack Pending

Controlling the Internet is the ultimate example of potential cat-herding. It is a random, amorphous, network of alternative routes and information exchange. It defies regulation.

The inconvenient truth (sorry, Al,) is that an establishment of fine upstanding goals by the "International Community, aka UN" will lead to potentially ineffective restrictions. That will necessitate stiffening the rules and increasing the restrictions. That will lead to increased costs and barriers to trade. That will foment further attempts at supranational control. It is a downhill slope to ignorance and world domination by a select group.

Keep on eye on this one.

Fighter Porn

C'mon, admit it. The Thunderbirds are simply too pretty, too polite and way too politically correct. They simply don't exude WARRIOR anymore.

So what do you get if you put just a bit of polish on some real guys? How about Viper West, the demo team out of Hill AFB?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Among Many

We've talked about "earmarks" here before. The argument is that the money is already in the budget for a general purpose, so why not have the representatives of the people make the choice of where exactly it will be spent? The alternative is some nameless, faceless bureaucrat doing the doling. Of course the bureaucrat has some expertise and a big picture of where in the entire nation the money is most appropriately spent, but Americans are easily swayed by a picture of elected officials who work hard to bring dollars back to their districts.

Some say the earmarks don't matter too much. This week with the $1.2 TRILLION omnibus spending bill on the quick vote agenda we are told that the earmarks quotient is a piddling $8.4 billion. (PS to Congress, I'll take just one percent of that piddling sum and live out the rest of my life without bothering you.)

But, let's take a look at this fine gentleman from Missouri and what a few of the items on his letter to Santa look like:

Just One Year's Worth For Ol' Manny

Be sure to scroll all the way through the list to get to the very last item. The amount only displays as ######### because it is too large for the formatted table! That single tidbit alone is $48 BILLION!

Why is this man smiling?

The New Face of Learning

I've got almost a month between semesters and I'm taking the opportunity to revise the American Government course. I'm scheduled for a couple of online sections next year and although I've used the eLearning module to support tradtional classroom courses, it isn't adequate for a fully online class.

SWMBO did a Master's program via "distance learning" from Univ. of Northern Colorado about fifteen years ago and I have been doing online classes almost the same length of time. As with all technology, the evolution has been remarkable and I only dip a semi-senile toe into the very deep capabilities pool of the software.

I used BlackBoard Learning Systems in Colorado and we use ANGEL Learning Management Systems in Texas.

ANGEL Education

You can do just about anything online that you can in a classroom now. You create lessons, link to web pages, insert audio and video, have asynchronous discussion forums or real-time online chat supported by interactive whiteboard modules. Many textbook publishers offer pre-formatted modules or cartridges for ANGEL or BlackBoard that upload a full-blown course that you can use as is or edit to fit your personal preferences.

Come test time and you can grab question banks from publishers or build your own exams that students can access online. Automatic grading and gradebook recording takes the load off the instructors. Multiple-choice, fill-the-blanks, true/false, word-entry and essay questions are all possible.

Reports of virtual all student activity are easy to generate and show quickly who is logging on, who is contributing, what didn't get done and more.

This week I found that the college has licensed SoftChalk, a web-authoring tool, that merges seamlessly with ANGEL courses to provide a lot more professional lessons and more dynamic interaction.

SoftChalk For All Levels of Education

I've been using it for a couple of days now and although there are a few places I might like it to be a bit slicker, it isn't hard to learn and the output looks pretty good.

So, does that mean better educated students being dumped out the far end of the system pipeline? Unfortunately no.

This past semester my online State-Local Government class started with 32 students. Half of them withdrew during the semester when they realized that they actually had to write a coherent paragraph with properly spelled words and that they had to bring real facts to the discussion not what Bubba down at the beer-hall told them about their uncle Tony's opinion of Gov. Perry. Another ten didn't withdraw, but never participated either. At the end, eight students completed the course and three of them failed.

The whole rats nest is a manifestation of low expectations from educators throughout the school system. There has been a culture of no-stress, social promotion, tolerated poor performance, and absence of standards. The evidence shows up through attendance, writing assignments, class participation, coherent expression and involvement in life around them.

But, at least it keeps me off the streets most days.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Constructive Play

Get the kids something nice for Christmas that they can play with quietly:

Lamest Ducks

They got the boot in remarkable numbers in November. The mandate of the electorate could not have been more clear. Yet they have returned for one last incredible bacchanal. They root in the trough as deeply as they have ever done and seem to have abandoned all pretense of being anything other than venal, pandering, criminals.

Yet, some Americans still think they are all right.

Lowest Approval Rating Records Challenged

They had only two things that demanded action. First, stop the tax increase. How easy would that be? Simply craft a one or two line bill saying that provision x-y-z of the existing tax law which expires on Dec 31st is extended until further legislation. Second, pass a continuing resolution, required in the absence of a budget to authorize funding to continue services of the government at the existing rate. Sounds like another one or two line deal to me.

But, yesterday they revealed the rape of the treasury. Just a hair under 2000 pages again and with spending rates of half a billion dollars PER PAGE! Total of 1.1 trillion dollars and nearly 6500 personalized earmarks!

Spending Spree Without Regard For Consequences

And, they want it all done in a hurry so they can repeal DADT, legalize illegal dreaming immigrants, and probably  agree to free all those nice al-Qaeda folks down in Cuba for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Warning Movement

Possibly the most difficult concept for students in my government classes is that of ideology in America. There is an intimate relationship between the ideological view of the proper role of government, the political parties that embrace those ideologies and the slices of our society which identify on election day with a party.

How many times have you heard someone sneer and proudly declare themselves an "Independent"? In most states there is no such thing as an Independent. If you don't identify with a party, you are unaffiliated. The result is that you effectively have no say in the choice of candidates you will face on general election day. You can't vote in primaries in many states and you never participate in caucuses. You choose what is placed before you.

Know anyone who tells you how they vote for the "best man" and not the party? The quickest way to have them give you a puzzled look is to ask who they voted for in their state legislature, their county commission or their state judges. They have no clue who these folks are and therefore either vote for the name they saw most often or they leave most of their ballot blank. "Best man"? Hardly.

A letter to the editor in this AM's Dallas Morning Fishwrap:
My vote sends a message
Straight-ticket balloting is lazy and primarily used by people who are either less educated about the candidates or have an agenda that supersedes the individual candidates. It probably should be eliminated for fairness and more engaged voting. 
However, Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet got my attention with his comments on "ballot drop-off." I generally don't vote for attorneys or incumbents. I don't want politicians in office too long, becoming rich in the process, and I don't mark the ballot for judges or incumbents running unopposed. 
I try to send a message that I don't want Gov. Rick Perry anointed as king or Ralph Halls in office for 30 years. As a conservative, it is difficult that I'm often compelled to vote against those who share my political views. 

He makes a policy of not having his legislation written by lawyers! I wonder if he bans surgeons from his family surgery? Incumbents running unopposed? Maybe because everyone thinks they are doing a good job? Experience from tenure? Can't have that. He is proud of his ignorance.

Are we tired of bickering and partisanship? Of course. Should we discuss issues, policy choices and rational decision-making. One could only hope. But, do we gain some valuable information about a candidate when they affix an R or a D to their name?

Don't Call Me a Dimmicrat!

Will you be a better, more informed voter by eschewing labels? Will you do more good by not knowing who is liberal and favors government regulation, redistribution of wealth, and the end of the free market? Apparently this group thinks so.

Leaders? Well, here are a few from that article:

  1. Michael Bloomberg, "Independent" mayor of New York City, nee Democrat
  2. Jonathan Cowan, former Clinton "loyalist"
  3. Nancy Jacobson, "activist" and wife of Democratic pollster
  4. Charlie Crist, "Independent" after losing FL Republican primary to Marc Rubio
  5. Mike Castle, former RINO Senator of Delaware
  6. Kirstin Gillibrand, Dem Senator of New York
It looks suspiciously like the group seeks to dumb down the electorate. They want to be able to dump a lot of "Hope and Change" on you with speeches that promise candy for you bought by the other guys. They got the message that ideology wins elections and conservative views of the role of government trump their world view. 

We either want big government or we want to take responsibility for ourselves. We want government in either role to represent our ideological perspective. We need help to identify the down ballot candidates who accept most of our preferences. We have a better chance of getting the government we want if we have some helpful and meaningful labels. Calling a liberal a progressive doesn't change their core. Denying the label makes voting down ballot past the major race a hit or miss proposition that won't serve us well. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Didn't Know?

You must buy two suits a year from Jos. A. Bank or you will be fined $2500. If you cannot afford the suits you will be eligible for governmental assistance to purchase those suits. But everyone has to have two suits a year, even if you don't ever wear a suit.

Not really. It is pretty obvious that the federal government can't force you to buy something you don't want from a private business. They can't force you to purchase something you don't need from another citizen. They can't mandate that you stock up on something good for you from the local merchant. That isn't rocket science.

Regulation of interstate commerce is not mandate of free enterprise transactions. But what if we are talking about healthcare? Then apparently the end justifies the unconstitutional means. The big white oak stake has now been pounded into the epidermal layer of the vampire which is Obamacare. It won't take long now to see if the Supreme Court wields the mighty mallet to plunge the stake through the heart. Unless the Bamster gets a couple of hurry-up appointments from the bench of lefties waiting in the bull-pen, the Roberts court seems like a very possible judicial Buffy.

Greta has a wrinkle on this which no one else seems to have noticed.

Severability Clause Left Out Through Legislative Screw-up

The rush to lard it up with goodies for all of the supporting groups and the continued incompetence of the Democrats seems to have left this package with the legal version of Achilles' left heel. Greta is an attorney, so I'll have to take her word on this one. Happy to do it, I might add.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It is an unfortunate fact of life that as some people age their intellectual acuity seems to deteriorate. In the extreme and tragic case of Alzheimer's it is glaringly obvious. In the case of Justice Steven Breyer it is just as apparent but convoluted in the language that the left will latch onto in support of their position.

Founder Favored Gun Grabbers


They had just fought a revolution and defeated the strongest colonial power in the world. How? They asked citizens to bring their guns and join the fight. Folks who grew up with firearms and used them daily to feed their families also could take those arms and capture their freedom. To somehow suggest that the Founding Fathers feared armed Americans is ludicrous. To fail to recognize that the placement of the right to keep and bear arms at number two in the list of protected freedoms after only the freedom of intellectual political  expression is unconscionable.

When he suggests that Madison, acting alone, controlled the liberties preserved by the Bill of Rights defies belief. How could the convention reconvened to add the Bill of Rights as a necessity for ratification go against their core beliefs according to Breyer. How could the legislatures of the states, all independent and fractious in their debate be convinced to act counter to their principles on gun control? Is Breyer really serious?

But maybe the indication of the man's confused thinking is most apparent in this challenging construct:
Breyer, ..., outlined his judicial philosophy as one in which the court must take a pragmatic approach in which it "should regard the Constitution as containing unwavering values that must be applied flexibly to ever-changing circumstances."
Am I alone in confusion regarding how you flexibly apply unwavering values? The very concept of unwavering defies the option of flexibility.

There is truly no fool like an old one.

'Tis the Season

Spent yesterday dealing with Christmas tree erection (at my age you take what life gives you!) and listening to jazz Christmas carols on Sirius radio. I began to be moved inexorably by the spirit of the season. Cold morning in Texoma makes the fireplace welcome and watching the Minnesotans shovel snow off the collapsing roof of Bret Favre Land helps as well.

So, if you need some plans for the season and some proper defensive moves for avoiding unpleasant eventualities, here is a bit of guidance:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Morning Blues Rocker

My wife hates to go on a road trip with me because I'm very likely going to load up the CD changer with Santana. You would think she would be used to it by now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

When Is Enough, Enough?

This gentleman, and I use the term very loosely, seems to be totally ignorant of the concept of private property.

Senator and Socialist Bernie Sanders Filibusters

The question of when enough is enough is not the government's business to decide. That is the core principle. It is MINE, not yours. If I want more, if I want to continue to work, if I want my family to have the fruits of my life's labor, then Sen. Sanders that is none of your bloody concern.

Sit down, shut up.

They Will Not Die!

It might have been subtle in the past, but the pandering has become so blatant, flagrant, outrageous, that even the slugs and mouth-breathers that comprise the American electorate have begun to take notice. They thought the blood had drained from the zombie on November 2nd, but while we looked away the ragged body came back to life.

The Bamster realized that he would be in serious trouble if he let his tax increase plan for January 1st go through. He postured as though he was caving in to pressure while at the same time duping the Republicans into giving up some very expensive concessions. With a bag of Christmas goodies to hand out and a fictional high ground from which to claim humble success, he got back-lash from his party.

The two core activities of a Democrat were still in ascendancy. They must take from the wealthy, who have no right to their own success. And, they must give to the lazy whom they have conditioned to expect everything to come to them right now for just a vote every two years. Steal money, squeal "fairness", and get re-elected.

Now Harry Reid shows clearly just how it is done:

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

The concessions on a year of unemployment payments, a cut in FICA, a kick-back for college tuition, and a new 35% inheritance confiscation together weren't enough.

Among the extra provisions are a tax credit for biodiesel, a tax credit for ethanol, extensions of tax credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances, and credits for training mine rescue teams. 
It would allow millions of dollars worth of expensing for film and production companies doing work in the United States, give breaks for the rum trade in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, provide incentives for investment in the District of Columbia and provide other benefits for the battered Gulf coast.

Do you know anyone who runs a vehicle on biodiesel? Would you buy a $1000 refrigerator for a $75 tax credit? How large do you think the mine rescue team training industry is? Should government be subsidizing off-shore rum distillers? What incentives are required to invest in DC that take priority over the rest of the nation?

What will it take? Silver bullets? Wooden stakes? Garlic, holy water and crucifixes? How can we keep them from coming back to legislative life?

When Walking in the Woods

When walking in the woods, it is a good idea be aware of your surroundings lest you become the main course for dinner.

This came over the transom this AM from a good friend in Wyoming, just across the state line from Colorado. The cat was taken a couple of miles down the road from her house.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Economics and Taxation

Seldom do you find it spelled out so clearly and with so much factual support:

Tax Rich, No Rich, Distribute Nothing

No blood is left in the turnips and too many folks are waiting for their free bowl of turnip soup.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Don't Look, Ethyl!

I had to look. I knew better, but I had to watch even though I knew before he started what was going to happen. He was going to whine. He was going to misrepresent. He was going to play the victim. He was going to brag about his greatness. He was going to vilify the opposition.He was going to blame Bush. But I honestly didn't expect that he was also going to lash out at his own pandering party.

He graciously negotiated from a nonnegotiable position. His failure to compromise would have launched an incredible tax INCREASE in just three weeks. He was against cutting anyone's taxes and in favor of raising taxes on anybody who actually works for a living, but particularly on anyone who actually has the temerity to be successful.

Although he single-handedly has spent like the crown prince of Brunei imitating a drunken sailor on shore leave, he still stands before the microphone and intones that letting people keep their own money will cost the government $700 billion over two years. The government will give out NOTHING! He doesn't acknowledge that business owners, investors and entrepreneurs will use their own money to do something that government has never successfully done; create jobs...real, paying, stable, productive jobs.

His "compromise", which was nothing of the kind, actually netted him a huge concession from the Republicans. It allowed him to continue to dole out weekly pay-checks for doing nothing to people who have not found any kind of employment for two full years now. This will take them out for three years of free money. That certainly sounds like he got a socialist win to me.

He cuts Social Security contributions for a year, which means the Earned Income Tax Credit for the non-taxpayers will be yet another drain on the deficit and will hasten the collapse of the SS system. Another socialist win.

But, my serious up-chuck moment came when he ranted about how compromise is the way he gets things done! Really? Where was all that compromise this last year during the stonewalling, closed-door, Republican lock-out of the healthcare debate? The one thing he clearly does NOT do is compromise.

Then I lost it completely when he shifted to describe the great victory for the American people as his healthcare bill now insures every single American will get medical coverage...ptui!

Don't look. But if you do look then please remember the venality of this man-child when the next election comes around. Remember the lies and deceit. Remember the trampling of our Constitutional rights. Remember the performance of Browner, Napolitano, Holder, Gates, Clinton, Biden and his henchmen. Remember and try to save the Republic before we lose it completely.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Calling Big Sis

Just an oversight. I'm sure the passenger was appropriately scanned and groped prior to boarding. Oh, outside the country? Does Secretary Nappie know? Well what will be our response?

Just a Bag of Snakes, Squirrels and Parrots, Sir!

Maybe he was collecting components for a live version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

Four reticulated pythons,
Three Brazilian Macaws,
Two nutty squirrels,
And a pound of C4 in a carry-on bag...

Saturday at My House

I wonder if these guys are available Saturday? Without them it is probably going to be a one-man show fueled with Sam Adams and football...

All-Time Best Quarterback?

Want to start a spirited discussion in any bar in the country? Simply ask who is the best quarterback to ever play the game.

Some names come to mind. Some are a bit back in history. Some great ones were only great for a short while others stayed in the business to dazzle and some stayed too long at the party. Who do you like for the title?

Historic? The game has changed a lot since Sammy Baugh played. John Unitas and Bart Starr were remarkable but things are different today. Elway, Staubach, Montana, Bradshaw, Marino could all make a short list.

But, if you want to check some records and count some rings, the number one contender in my mind showed up in Foxboro last night:

Brady and Friends Showcase Their Team

What a match-up. New York versus Boston! A long-standing rivalry in all major league sports. Two teams with identical league leading records of 9-2 for the season. It should have been in doubt with the outcome uncertain until the final seconds. It wasn't. It was done before it had gone half-way through the first quarter.

The pre-game interview was sheer class. Rex Ryan, son of one of my all-time favorite coaches, Buddy Ryan, was grace and humility as he showed respect for the Patriots. He acknowledged that Bill Belichick was the better coach. He said that Brady was the better quarterback. But he was ready to play and he had the better team. It's a team sport and his was better prepared, better trained and ready for the battle.

He was wrong. A great coach and a great quarterback are the motivators of a great team. Brady chalked up his 26th straight regular season home victory. He hasn't been intercepted in seven consecutive games!

And, he's still got miles to go before he sleeps.

Bret Favre went down the tunnel, an injured warrior on Sunday. He's cost the Vikings a coach and a couple of seasons. He's stayed too long at the dance.

Peyton Manning is a great QB, but he no longer has that great coach and his team is pathetically one dimensional.

Donovan McNabb will never be Hall-of-Fame and certainly not under Mike Shanahan's guidance.

Michael Vick is a thug and I can't get past that.

Kyle Orton continues to demonstrate why Chicago traded him. As his coach packs out his office, he offers no hope of a late season redemption for Denver.

Tony Romo is hopefully not going to come back for this season so that Jason Garrett can close out his argument for having the job of Dallas head coach. Maybe Jerry Jones could snag Cam Newton...ohhhhh, YEAH!

But for now the best playing the game is Tom Brady. The best of the decade is Tom Brady. Possibly the best QB to ever play the game might be Brady. Brady in Dallas in February? I think I'll check the odds on that investment.

The Day

Monday, December 06, 2010

So Easy to Check

Once upon a time in the land before Internet, there were the pseudo-intellectuals who could stand in discussion and ponderously pontificate on what history was like and what the Founding Fathers thought. Now, meta-search systems like Google, Bing and a host of others make it incredibly easy to find out the facts when something simply sounds unbelievable.

I just had a perfect example on Facebook. Someone had noted that the whole purpose of this current debate on Capitol Hill regarding the January 1 tax increases on the "wealthy" was little more than an extension of the belief that government somehow has the right to determine when an individual has become too successful. They are then, under that belief, obligated to take the fruits of that individual's labor away and distribute it to the less fortunate.

That's pretty much the way I see it. But then someone piped in and noted that Hamilton and Jefferson were redistributionists at their core. Yes, he averred, Jefferson favored a stiff inheritance tax to balance things out. That struck me as decidedly out of character as I recall my reading about Jefferson.

So, I simply Googled "Jefferson on taxes" and got this pithy quote:

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father has acquired too much, in order to spare to others who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "to guarantee to everyone a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." 
That seems pretty anti-tax to me.

Hamilton, on the other hand, was the money man and not the liberty advocate that Jefferson was. Still, Hamilton appears very aware that it is necessary for ALL to participate in the funding of the proper services of their government.
“They [taxes] will in the end be borne by all classes; yet it is of the greatest importance that no one should sink under the immediate pressure. The great art is to distribute the public burdens well and not suffer them, either first, or last, to fall too heavily upon parts of the community; else distress and disorder must ensue. A shock given to any part of the political machine vibrates through the whole.” 
When we have morphed our tax structure into a system in which 46% pay zero federal income tax and 2% of the society pays 40% of the federal tax revenue, we can probably conclude that the great art which Hamilton sought has been abandoned and the shock to the political machine is currently vibrating.

Report Your Friends & Family

I grew up during the height of anti-Communist hysteria. It was the era of Gene McCarthy and red-baiting and black-listing. In the fourth grade I would sit and look at the ten foot high windows along the side of the classroom and contemplate how the nuclear flash would look and whether or not I could get under my desk in time to avoid the flying glass from the blast wave after I had been blinded.

We would listen to Sister Mary Elephant, looking for all the world like Jake and Elwood's Penguin, explain to us about first Hitler and then Stalin. We got descriptions of how these dictatorial regimes maintained their iron fisted control. Core to the methodology was the enlistment of every one, but particularly children, to report to the government any indiscretions, disloyalties, or transgressions against the government. Children were rewarded for ratting out their parents and friends sought gain by turning in friends. The lesson was clear. Keep your privacy. Don't disclose what goes on at home, on the job, or in your social encounters.

What then to make of this:

See Something? Say Something!

Sorry, I'm not on board with that. I don't need a government program to know when something terrorist is before my eyes. I am apprehensive about a publicity campaign encouraging people to rush to the nearest Gestapo branch to describe what they saw that is in conflict with Big Sis' latest directives.

This is groundwork for a bleak future.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Explaining My Okie Neighbors

Have you wondered about the fella down the street with the pit bull, the cammies and the crapped out pick-up truck? Well, this might explain a bit of it:

Wiki Drips on Climate Conference

If there was any remaining doubt about the agenda driven aspects of the Global Warming Climate Change crisis, we may have found an unlikely fellowship with Julian Assange. Here's some of the dug up dirt on the Bamster's "negotiations" in Copenhagen at the grand climate confab and dismantling of civilization gathering last year:

Follow The Money, Forget the Data

Conspicuously absent in that fun-fest of national self-interest and power-broker greed is any discussion of science and facts and data to support or deny the so-called crisis.

Makes you a bit more paranoid doesn't it?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Economics 101

If you don't usually notice, the lame duck session of Congress is affording the outgoing Democratic majority an opportunity to clearly demonstrate the essence of their ideology. It is all about class warfare. It is about exacerbating envy between haves and have-nots. It is classic Marxist demagoguery pitching a message to the proletariat about how evil the bourgeoisie are.

Republicans For Millionaires Unite!

Again, I must point out that this is NOT about a tax cut. It is about a huge tax increase. The current rates are the current rates. They weren't always the rates, but they are the rates today. If you pay more taxes in three weeks it is because you have experienced a tax increase!

 Yes, in a period of rising unemployment who do you think will "create" a job? Preserve the tax rate for that middle class family and they don't get taxed an additional $2500. How many jobs will they create with that windfall.

Tax that millionaire an ADDITIONAL $3.8 million dollars and how many jobs will he now be unable to fund? Those are jobs LOST because that business now has sent the money to Washington rather than paying those workers.

This is increasingly a Wonderland. We've passed through a cracked and cloudy looking glass and fallen down a rabbit hole.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Watching the news last night, I got this sort of feeling...

Friday, December 03, 2010

End of the Semester

Wading through 90 student papers from three sections of government classes and it isn't a rewarding experience. Something is happening to me....

Global Warming Rages

Yes, it is harder to deny the impact of man on the environment.

Europe Paralyzed by Record Cold

Maybe Al Gore can exhale in their direction and warm things up a bit.


It's been more than three years now and the tradition appears to be continuing without abatement:

This has got to be frustrating as hell for all of those stiff-necked slick-pocket, non-combatant REMFs that manage the Academy. There lurks in the cemetery the ghost of a warrior and on any given day repeated testimonials that the spirit of the man lives on. Cadets, I am sure, know of this and I hope they visit and contemplate what it means.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

No Brainer

Ever wonder why soccer doesn't make the big time in America? I mean we've got hundreds of thousands of pre-school through middle-school rug-rats being chauffeured to the manicured pastures of American suburbia in a vast fleet of generic looking passenger vans by a designated class of women who determine the outcome of American elections, the Soccer Moms. Why wouldn't this translate to an enthusiastic fan base for professional soccer in America? The rest of the world goes crazy for the sport and we cling to our NFL, NCAA, MLB, and football, baseball, basketball and a bit of hockey.

You can drive to Dallas on a day or night when the Dallas professional "football" club, whatever their name might be, is playing and you won't encounter any traffic delays going past the stadium. The Fishwrapper sport section has some coverage usually on page six or eight but nobody reads it.

Maybe this is why:

FIFA Picks Qatar over USA

Start planning your 2018 vacation to beautiful sunny Qatar. Be sure to take your wife and daughters who play soccer so they can see the games...Oh, by 2016 Qatar adopted Sharia law and your wife and daughters will be required to wear burquas and wait outside the stadium in the women's compound? Well, so what, go inside and have a couple of beers while you watch the games...Oh? Not that either?

Yeah, that should generate a lot of enthusiasm for American soccer. I can just see investors lining up to buy a pro soccer franchise and reap all that money after the fans get set for Qatar.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Applied Economics

Here's another great economy booster!

Ban Off-Shore Drilling Everywhere!

Lemme see how that's going to work. No rig workers, no transporters, no refineries, higher gas/oil costs, less driving, reduced auto demands, increased prices for goods and services to get to market...

Yeah, Bamster, you've got a homerun with that one!

Remembering Lydia