Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Damning With Faint Praise

Want to learn how to laud an American hero while at the same time under-cutting his achievements and demeaning the sacrifices of an entire profession? Here is a classic example. Pay attention to the four member panel that comments on the end of a career:

WaPo Says Good-Bye

I'm not sure they value what the man stands for or what he accomplished.

Toning Down the Rhetoric

I've watched the TEA Party gatherings. People wave the American flag. They sing patriotic songs and pledge allegiance to America. They seem to be working class and they are activated across the country. They don't look young particularly, but some of them are young. They don't look old, but there are significant numbers of senior citizens to be seen. They certainly don't look lily white. I've seen African-Americans and Latinos and Asians at the gatherings. I've never seen violence or hostility and I've failed to notice anything racist about the positions the TEA party has espoused.

They appear to me to be proud Americans who aren't embarrassed by their country. They look to be free-market capitalists who embrace the traditional conservative positions of individual responsibility and low taxation building strong economies. They've been largely divorced from the social conservative agenda although many candidates which they support have been strong social conservatives. They have been quite successful at the polls.

So we hear that we must tone down the rhetoric. We must not vilify the opposition. We must avoid partisan divisiveness and work together to solve problems without antagonism.

I guess this is the way we should do it:

Coming Event

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Culture of Dependence

In the aftermath of the storm hype that paralyzed a nation and dampened a coast, this puff piece ran in the Dallas Morning Fishwrap today. Since the resident bleeding hearts of the DMN newsroom don't do much of their own journalism it doesn't originate in Big D. In fact, despite being on page three of today's rag, a verbatim search on the headline text returned no results. Apparently their web-site is ashamed of it.

Lower Ninth Awaiting Recovery

This week is the sixth anniversary of the descent into sub-humanity which marked Hurricane Katrina's passage over New Orleans. The folly of building a city fifteen feet below sea level played out as the society crumbled in less than 24 hours. Now, the Ninth Ward is not yet the Potemkin Village of their dreams. And, that news piece illustrates exactly why.

Let's say you had a house in a town or a metro neighborhood. That neighborhood was virtually destroyed by a natural disaster. When the disaster has passed, what do you do?

You probably take stock of what you have and what your future might hold. Do you leave and rebuild your life somewhere else or do you rebuild where you are having learned lessons from the experience? That's a fork in the road.

Choose to stay. You owned a house so you have insurance or you consider your financial position such that you self-insure meaning that you take the risk and assume responsibility. This is a working class neighborhood so you have insurance. You file your claim,  receive your check and call a contractor. In a year you are in your restored dwelling. Your neighbors do the same thing.

Because you have a neighborhood restored, you have a tax base and a population to be served by government services such as police/fire and schools. You have a customer base awaiting retail outlets so your stores rebuild and merchants come to prosper.

In other words you pick yourself up, take responsibility and build a life just as people always have. You and your neighbors go to work.

Not apparently in the Lower Ninth Ward.

There they listen as "politicians, investors and celebrities continue to promise a better future." They complain that "they ain't nothin' new down here. Nothing new..." They watch as "environmental groups and thousands of volunteers" work to give them something they didn't earn. They receive the publicity photo-op of Brad Pitt cutting a ribbon for their free housing.

The plight of those in poverty in the Ninth Ward is sad, but the state of mind that is reflected in those who would sit and wait for six years for someone else to provide for them is infinitely sadder.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Read & Heed

Somewhat Less Than Arks Required

They did find some flooded areas, but I just watched a live shot from Rockaway with pretty normal traffic flows and little but the typical residual puddles after a summer downpour. Earlier there was a similar shot to the CNN scene described at the link below except it was Fox News doing the coverage. Wind buffeting the reporter with surf crashing in the background, interspersed with strollers walking along the sidewalks in the background:

Thankfully Obama Was at the Helm

When we have our security in the hands of the Messiah, Bloomberg, Napolitano, et. al. what could possibly go wrong. Now watch for a dove with an olive branch and a possible docking site on Mt. Ararat.

But No Thunder?

Someone can do this, but the USAF won't let Collings Foundation restore an F-105 to flying status.

Not Paid Enough

Hurricane Irene hasn't quite lived up to the hysteria that preceded. Even Shep Smith was having a tough time keeping adequately frantic. Certainly there has been a lot of rain, big waves, plenty of wind and brisk sales of plywood and emergency generators.

But it raises a question to my logical mind. Anyone watching TV news rather than reruns of Spongebob Squarepants knows that hurricanes involve wind, rain and rising tides. I don't need to see some fool in a blue plastic slicker doing a live shot on the beachfront to get the concept. Why do they continually demand that the junior guy on the news staff go out there? Isn't there a battle zone with bombs and rockets going off for him to establish his news cred?

Yet, even with the flooding (no pun intended) of the airwaves in hurricane live shots occasionally one will stand out as demanding more than simple attention. Try this example of reportorial excess:

"Organic material..." I really don't need any more information than that.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fellow Traveler

I've become exceptionally cynical in my dotage. I'm increasingly unable to take anything at face value. Show me a chart, a quotation, a picture, or an email of outrage that says "forward to everyone you know" and I will question it, dismantle it, analyze it and come up with a totally different conclusion than the original intended.

Try it yourself. You will be amazed at what you begin to see and understand.

Today's exercise started with the link that said a congressman had been invited by Qaddafi to Libya with all-expenses paid to "broker peace." That immediately piques my curiosity.

Who is the congress-critter? What makes Qaddafi think this individual is credentialed to function in that role? Where in the Constitution does it allocate foreign negotiation responsibility to a congress member?

All-Expense Paid Vacation to Beautiful Sea-Side Luxury Hotel in Tripoli

See what you get?

Arguably the weirdest member of an organization which is known for being a bit off-kilter, Dennis Kucinich is the potential peace-maker. Has he ever done this before? Well, he's no Jimmy Carter or Jesse Jackson in that regard. He is, however, a certified pacifist and appeaser.

So, did he pack his American Tourister luggage and head for the Mediterranean coastal paradise? Nope! He feared for his security. Wow, what a courageous diplomat! He went instead to Syria!

I guess that proves conclusively where he has the greatest respect among international leaders.

Saturday Morning Rocker

In a mellow mood, remembering some late nights and early mornings sitting on the floor leaning back on the couch with the stereo playing and the lights low...those were good days:

Friday, August 26, 2011


The President has "not been treated fairly."

We have that on good authority here. The anecdotal evidence of "most folks I've talked to" support the conclusion. What more do you need to know?

Congressman Elijah Cummings Plays The Card...Again

Excuse me??? Does the gentleman from Maryland purport to be unaware that the President's own party held a super-majority in both chambers of the legislature for the first two years of his tenure?

Is it unfair to seek a return on a trillion dollars of stimulus spending? Is it unreasonable to want unemployment to go down rather than up as a result of the administration's policies? Could we really suggest that the US position with respect to other nations of the world has improved under the policies of appeasement and apology which he embraces?

And how would you say the level of unfairness compares with the gentleman from Maryland's own conduct with respect to the previous incumbent of the Oval Office?

It doesn't matter if the Messiah is black, brown, yellow, red or brindle. The fact is that he entered the job without executive experience. He's never been responsible for measurable performance. He's been a child of affirmative action privilege for his entire life. And he's incompetent.

I'd call that estimation fair.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Sign of the Times

They are all around us, those little indicators of how the dumbing down of America has made the population totally dependent upon the heavy hand of government. We are not being oppressed. We are begging, pleading, even demanding that government come in and do it to us!

I'm not bashful about my love of good food and fine restaurants. I was not born into wealth. I didn't inherit more than it that it took to provide my parents a reasonably respectful funeral and interment. I've worked for my education, my  profession, my home, my cars, my belongings. And, when I spend my money on dinner and wine, that is my business.

I've traveled for a day or two by car, train and plane to dine at a renowned restaurant. I've had the incredible pleasure of experiencing what a Michelin three-star establishment offers. I've done it a couple of dozen times.

I don't go to eat. I go to dine. I don't eat out three times a week, or three times a month. I may make a restaurant excursion once every three months or I could take a long weekend twice a year and hit three or four special places in a cluster of gastronomic excess. But it's my bloody business and don't you dare to try to impose limits or restrictions on my enjoyment.

New Yorkers Want Parking Meters on Restaurant Tables

This is a society in which they consider their privilege more important than mine. They don't want to wait. They want me to move along and get out of their way. They want government to impose a regulation. They want to arbitrarily impose a standard on how fast I should consume my meal. They want to restrict how long I  can enjoy an interesting conversation. They want me to swill the last of my wine rather than savoring it. They want me to forego a desert or a cognac if my time is expired on the government's meter.

Probably most offensively, they seem to forget that the restaurant they want regulated is a free-market, private enterprise. If the proprietor wants to move people through for volume sales, that is what he will do and then I will choose freely whether or not to patronize the establishment.

But it is not government's decision how long I linger. It is not the pushy New Yorker's decision. It is mine and the restaurateur's choice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Than a Bounce

The pundits tended to discount the sudden leap of Rick Perry to the top of the potential Republican heap as simply the novelty of the new-comer to the race. But, now he's been in long enough for some of the bloom to have faded on that Texas rose. People have paid attention, the Dems have come out to trash him and even the shadowy gray visage of Whatzisname Huntsman who consistently polls something less than 1% couldn't make a dent in Perry's position.

But look at this Gallup Poll result:

Zooms to #1 With a Bullet

Take a moment here to play apprentice political scientist with me. Read down that piece for the breakout by demographic slices. That's where you learn something of value.

Perry leads when you break down by age group in all age brackets. He leads by regions. He leads by gender of voter. He leads by identification as liberal or conservative. He leads by church-goer or non-churchie.

In other words Gallup found that Perry has a very broad base that is more than evangelical, red-neck, beer-swilling, boot-scootin' secessionist Neanderthals. The electorate appears to like him.

Worth 1000 Words

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Subliminal Impressions

Washington DC is a city of monuments. National capitals tend to be that way. We've got some incredible memorials there. The Lincoln Memorial will leave you awe-struck. The Jefferson captures so much about the man who stirred this nation into revolution and then a successful democracy for more than 200 years. The Washington monument is a landmark that guides you around much of the capital.

It took much too long for a World War II memorial, but if you've been there and seen it you had to be impressed. It is a fitting way to recall the sacrifices of the millions during that epic struggle. And if you've visited The Wall, you may have come away depressed as I do with each visit.

We unveiled another landmark on the mall this week. My impression is that there is very much wrong with it. It is not America although it purports to honor a great and influential American.

Martin Luther King Memorial Dedicated

This is not the sort of visage on a monument which we erect in America. There is nothing wrong with honoring the man, but we know what this sort of a statue is reminscent of.

In a period of massive unemployment in America someone out-sourced the statue to China. The sculptor's greatest achievements were monumental memorials to Mao Tse Tung. This is the sort of art that typifies the repressive dictatorships of despots like Mao. You've seen the same sort of statue of Stalin and Lenin throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc of Europe. You saw something similar in the center of Baghdad torn down during the Gulf War.

The entire monument is titled, "The Mountain of Despair"! Really? Is that a fitting tribute to equality, opportunity and the American Dream? Within a few hundred yards of the Lincoln Memorial we have a Mountain of Despair? That must be wrong.

And the statue of the man himself? "The Statue of Hope". It doesn't look like Hope. It looks like a huge mistake and an aberration in the center of a nation which symbolized so much more in the years not long past.

Monday, August 22, 2011

No Privacy At All

A US President, for better or for worse, lives in a publicity fish-bowl. It has almost reached the extreme of that early scene in "The Last Emperor" where the eunuchs examine the morning deposit of the toddler Emperor for portents of his health and the nation's future.

The Bamster went to the bookstore in Martha's Vineyard last week. He bought a stack of books and in a magnanimous gesture disagreed with the owner of the store at checkout regarding the price. He wasn't being charged enough for the large stack of reading material he was acquiring. There is a parable there about his economic policies, but I'll let you ferret it out yourself.

We learned what the children were reading and now we find out what the Messiah himself is using to improve his mind, broaden his outlook, and find solutions to the economic crisis:

President Reads Fiction Exclusively: Crime, Porn Kings and Robber-Baron Chi-Town

Frankly, I'm not surprised. How better to learn to govern than to review the Capone days of the Second City. That's when the true leaders really knew how to corrupt a town.

What I am surprised at is why the President, for all his high-tech, social-media, Twittering press conferences, flash-mob campaign stops hasn't acquired a Kindle or an iPad with an account at Amazon or iTunes.

He could read all that crap in privacy and pay what everyone else pays without a quibble and it would be all secure thanks to HTTPS encryption.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reverse Speak Remembered

Recall last year when I regularly pointed out the quickest way to decipher exactly what the Messiah was saying? The clue was to realize that whatever he says is exactly the opposite of what he means or intends to do.

Does anybody remember this?
"Let me say this as plainly as I can. If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired just like always," Obama said in a speech. "Your warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it has ever been. Because starting today, the United States will stand behind your warranty."
Here is the context:

US Will Guarantee Your Car 

Did you go out and check your GM wheels then? Or were you reassured that whatever malfunction would raise its ugly head would be taken care of under warranty? Maybe you should have applied the reverse speak interpretation rules:

That Was "Old GM" We're "New GM"

Interesting how that worked out, heh?

Saturday Morning Rocker

Here is some really good blues:

And here is great blues:

Texas Jobs

Hyperbole or fact? What's the real story about Rick Perry and the record of Texas job creation? Is the state really  holding up the nation with regard to jobs or is it all just campaign rhetoric?

Here is a pretty objective summary with some hard data on what has happened over the last decade.

WSJ on Texas Job Situation

That looks pretty good to me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pathetic Politics

Nothing surprises me any more. This item from the Washington Post purports that the full page add to run in the Austin "alternative" weekly newspaper is paid for by a Ron Paul supporter.

Have You Slept With Rick Perry? Mrs. Perry Need Not Respond!

Being always skeptical, let me clearly state:

  1. I'm not surprised by such an ad.
  2. The venue of an alternative weekly rag in proudly "weird" Austin fits the style.
  3. It may be a heavy handed satirical jab. 
  4. I doubt that there are real links to Ron Paul. 

Calling the Kettle White?

The long knives are coming out. Answer me just one question. What is the Secretary of Education doing commenting on the political candidacy of a governor running for President? Isn't that the role of the Democratic National Committee or the opponents of the governor? Why is a federal executive official in charge of an unnecessary bureaucracy and recruited from a demonstrably  failed and corrupt public school system sticking his nose in the issue?

Arne Duncan Trashes Texas Schools

Let's note that the DOE pays less than 10% of K-12 education costs. Nearly 40% of K-12 costs in Texas are borne by locally funded Independent School Districts and that is unrelated to state budgetary decisions.

Let us further stipulate that Texas has a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. When you've got that requirement and a contracting economy you will make spending cuts. When 38% of your state budget goes to education it is inevitable that you will find cuts.

If we return to yesterday's discussion of statistics on poverty and the meaningless use of a national number for comparison of states then we can quickly grasp that it costs a lot less per capita to provide an education to a kid in Texas compared to one in Chicago.

We have a very rigorous classification system for evaluating schools. Schools strive for the elusive "Exemplary" ranking and once they get it work very hard to keep it. There are continual reviews of data to insure that manipulation of the statistics doesn't provide false rewards. When schools, faculty or students fail to achieve in Texas they are told. The result is that we provide meaningful numbers and occasionally those numbers are unpleasant.

At the higher education level, the state's university, college and community college system is one of the most respected in the nation. There is a linkage between that system and the attractiveness of Texas to high-tech industry which is bringing both jobs and dollars to Texas.

But, to be perfectly honest, there is also a very complex system of regulatory boards and commissions for both K-12 and the higher education system. Some are elected and some are appointed. Some are appointed by the governor but subject to state senate confirmation. The school system's performance is only very peripherally related to the Governor.

And there isn't any damned reason for the Secretary of Education to be blundering in here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Is Poverty...and Why?

One of my favorite classroom discussions is about poverty in America. We have it in the American Government class and the Texas-centric State/Local Government class. Nationally it is an obvious issue and when we see where Texas ranks nationally in the poverty sweepstakes. it is probably even more relevant.

Once we get past the wailing and hand-wringing about the injustice of it all we get down to more objective analysis. (And for those who always like to joke about Political Science being a classic oxymoron, let me point out that is what a political scientist does. Just like any scientist you observe what is happening then you attempt to apply some analysis of cause/effect. Measure, interpret, evaluate, analyse and maybe predict for the future.)

Take a look at this piece and see how you could frame the discussion:

Brit Paper Reports One-in-Five US Children Impoverished 

Notice the map with that dark band of high poverty rates across the bottom of the nation. Is that reasonable? What's wrong with the statistics?

How about this: Poverty level is defined as a national dollar value. It's currently $22,350 per year for a family of four. The problem is that you can't apply a single number across a huge country with vastly different costs of living. You might be able to do quite nicely in Brownsville TX on that amount, but you couldn't buy two weeks of groceries in Manhattan, Aspen, or Palo Alto. To label states like Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana or New Mexico as wells of deep poverty is to apply  a skewed yardstick.

Then what about this situation from the news article:
Poverty: Karla Washington, 41, an undergraduate student, has a five-year-old daughter but earns less than $11,000 from her part-time job
Did you break that down? She is 41 years old. She has a five-year-old, which means she gave birth at the age of 36. This is hardly an ill-timed adolescent adventure with dire consequences. She was a mature adult and supposedly cognizant of what causes babies.

Unless we have the second known instance of immaculate conception, she had a man involved. He apparently is not in the picture. No indication is made that he ever was.

While it is commendable that she is taking action to improve herself by pursuing a college degree the effort seems to be decidedly late in life and an apparent failure to prioritize her obligations. In other words she didn't do the number crunching prior to matriculation. Apparently the assumption is that someone will provide for her on the basis of giving her little girl that life that she deserves.

If that doesn't explain a lot about poverty and its causes I don't know what would.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Matter of Degree

It really seems difficult to me to mount a defense for pulling a ski mask over your face then running into the streets sheltered by the anonymity of a mob, kicking in store windows, assaulting innocent bystanders and running away with whatever stirs your current fancy. It is totally indefensible.

Here's a mature take on a tale of two cities last week. One, the response of the black Mayor of Philadelphia, the other a liberal cretin writing blather for the Washington Post:

The Looting Bankers Defense

And, if you can keep from gagging, here's the WaPo "journalist" take on the injustice that drives to anarchy:

Dey Stole Ma Future...So I Burn Dem Out

The gratuitous linkage to TEA Party citizens expressing political displeasure with oppressive taxation and government over-spending is particularly artful.

Analysis Time

We sort of default in the tendency to paint the media as some sort of mindless tool of the left. We tend to condemn them as spin-masters in thrall to the administration. They are accused of not asking the tough questions,  not noticing the obvious inconsistencies, not pointing out when performance lags significantly behind promises. Is it true or are we being too harsh?

Here's a little exercise. Read this AP story and tell me if it is penetrating journalism or mindless sycophancy.

President To Have a Lobster and Boat Ride Then Reveal "The Plan"

What do you think?

Did you somehow want to know what the Messiah has been doing for the last 30 months? Were you a bit inquisitive about the delay in output of the laser focus on jobs and the economy which we've heard about for two years? Might you have gagged just a little bit when you tripped over the earnest accusation that if only the mean ol' Congress would roll over for him all would be taken care of? And can you bear to wait to see the $4 TRILLION in cuts that he's going to reveal which will make the Gang of Twelve Supercommittee look like pikers?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here's Why...

When the disarmament fans start griping about the cost of our piddling 185 Raptors and the waste of money on anything close to the programmed buy of F-35, one of the arguments they love to trot out is that there is no need for an air dominance fighter. For that matter there is no need for a modern 21st century tactical fighter force at all. All future wars are going to be Special Ops against fanatical jihadi terrorists in backwaters of the world.
This is the reason we need to modernize our force in sufficient numbers to maintain air superiority. The rate at which Tu-50 has moved from one-off prototype to production ready jet shouldn't be astonishing.

Putin to Watch as Stealth Pair Dances at Moscow Air Show

Don't doubt for a minute that the weapons system of this jet is a bit crude compared to F-22 and F-35. But that slight degrade in capability can easily be overcome by fielding a thousand of them to handle our guys at roughly ten-to-one.

They've done that in the past and it is core to their procurement doctrine. Mass trumps finesse in their book.

New Polling

The Rasmussen Report is generally well respected. When you are dealing with pure candidate preference it gets even easier to accept poll results. It's more complicated when it involves policy preferences or evaluations of performance.

This one is simple. The population is "likely GOP primary election voters". That means the folks who will actually get off their butt and support the candidate for the nomination of the party. No nuances of questions. Simply "who's your choice?"

A Commanding Lead in 72 Hours

It is a long time until actual votes are cast that mean something. But this indicates that there is someone bringing some excitement to the race and who might have the potential to break away from the pack. The benefit of that is if we avoid a long drawn-out primary season with self-destruction among the potential candidates, we save money and energy for the most important task of taking the nation back for Americans.

Beware of Unusual Friends

Where Were You When...

There are certain events in our lives that elicit the query, "do you remember where you were when..." you heard it happened. Certainly for my parents such a moment was the attack on Pearl Harbor. I'm sure there were others.

For me, there was the news flash that the President had been shot in Dallas. I was in my senior year in college. I was in the ROTC building lounge where I had been handling coordination for the annual Navy/AF military ball. I was the project officer and making some last minute arrangements. The news came and the rest of my day was filled with cancelling the activity and wondering what would happen for the future of our nation. We'd lost our President and in my short life I'd only known two others; Eisenhower and Truman.

Another was the 9/11 attack. I was working at my home office desk in Colorado finishing up a few things before getting dressed to head to the college for a couple of classes. The phone rang and a friend from my AF days called from Atlanta to tell me to turn on the TV . I did so, just in time for the second impact.

And, there was this one. I had just returned from four years in Spain and was checking in at Air University at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery Alabama. I was walking into the AU library at the center of the huge campus ring that contained Squadron Officer School, Air Command & Staff College, and Air War College. There was the morning newspaper in the rack announcing that the King had died.

He'd had his career roller-coaster, but he changed our music forever. He epitomized rock-n-roll and despite the cheesy movies and the glitter glam Vegas shows he was undeniably a talent:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Consider the Past

A friend of mine often responds to comments by the folks who so eagerly embrace defeat and embarrassment for America with his recollection of the Vietnam War, "Hell, we were winning it when I left..."

I've told the story here about students accepting the idea that we lost Vietnam badly. If Walter Cronkite said that Tet '68 was a massive defeat, it must have been so...but it wasn't. The NVN got their collective butts kicked from the DMZ to the southernmost tip of MR-4 in that week.

We lost 58,000 brave Americans over those years, but estimates for enemy losses range between 1.5 and 3 million. That's not much of a victory.

I don't know if I'm as confident at this gentleman regarding the capability of the SVN forces to withstand the North Vietnamese onslaught. The government was largely corrupt and the military leadership was only partially competent. Yet, it wasn't so much that corruption as the lack of promised support that caused the collapse. And it would be difficult to paint the aftermath as a desired outcome.

The "undeclared and un-winnable" mantra is still on the lips of too many in our government. We don't like wars and I'm not about to argue that we should embrace them. But there are things worth fighting for and there are forces in this world which should be defeated. If we fail to do those necessary tasks when we see them before us, then we are condemned to reliving history once again.

The Mind of the Liberal

The riots in England have been demonstrating once again the moral collapse of society that seems rampant in Europe and the US. The violent destruction of property, the attacks against innocents, the looting without hesitation and the mindlessness of the actions are cause for reaction. The link to social welfare policy, an entitlement mentality and permissiveness in the culture cannot be denied.

England has a history of discipline and proper behavior. The images of Brits bearing unbelievable hardship during the Blitz of WW II are hard to forget. There was no vandalism or looting. There was a spirit of working together to build a better society for the next generation. It appears today that the next generation isn't going to show much gratitude.

So what do we do when young people take to the streets, kick in store fronts, unabashedly loot the property of the businesses and then thumb their nose directly at the surveillance cameras and media which capture the action?

Well, how about identifying and then punishing the perps? Would it be inappropriate to stop sending these criminals a dollop of sterling each week?

Proposal to Cut Welfare Meets Resistance

Apparently chopping the checks would be "too tough to do" and counter-productive. Yes, spankings and time-outs are not the appropriate response to thuggery.

Taken from that perspective, I suppose the liberals would suggest that increasing the payments would be a better response.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Must Read

Here's a link rather than a repost. It takes you to Western Rifles Shooter Ass'n (a Regular Stop on the right sidebar) but it is already a repost from another excellent blog:

My  Aircraft: The Parable of Flight 1549

The application of that real-life story to the state of the nation is very well done.

Iconoclastic Libertarian

What's not to like about Ron Paul? He's probably a very nice elderly gentleman and quite affable at small dinner parties if you can keep him from dominating the conversation with digressions about the gold standard, pacifism, state's rights and the joy of medicinal applications of marijuana. As a presidential candidate he has all the electability of Adolph Hitler.

OK, that's harsh, but it doesn't sound so strange if you recall that Hitler built his political power with a small but intensely loyal cadre of largely politically naive idealists. He was generally unsuccessful in open elections and his party never captured more than a very small percentage of the Reichstag. Paul is a similar out-of-the-mainstream sort of player.

In less inflammatory terms, his un-electable status derives from a number of factors. Some of those are reasonable, some are purely statistical, and some are undeniably irrational but real emotionalism of the electorate.  He is too old for the job. He has never held executive office. Congressmen seldom get elected to the Presidency and when they do they aren't usually very remarkable in the job. Governors, generals and senators are the minor leagues for the big job. He is a largely unattractive and decidedly uncharismatic personality. And, if we laugh at the idea of a community organizer job as preparation for the Presidency, what then to anticipate for a gynecologist? These gripes aren't necessarily right, but they are very real in this game.

Is there substance for opposition to Paul? I think there is.

We tend to look at American political ideology as liberal and conservative. In reality, however, that dichotomy is a narrow subset of a wider range of ideologies and while many of those aren't common in the US, there are two which gather a bit more support than most: communitarian and libertarian. Liberals are often linked with communitarians. Conservatives often characterize themselves as libertarian. Ron Paul is an unabashed Libertarian. He has even run for the presidency as the nominee of the Libertarian party where he garnered the nomination by defeating Russell Means of the American Indian Movement.

You could have gotten a glimpse of the Libertarian perspective the other night in the debate. Paul's interpretation paints foreign policy in pure 1815 isolationist terms for America. He envisions a Fortress America protected by our oceans and withdrawn from leadership on the global stage. He advocates withdrawal from the UN, which for better or for worse, provides communication with the rest of the world and administration of a wide range of international programs which are both significant and important to world trade.

He wants US withdrawal from NATO, NAFTA, WTO and a broad range of alliances, compacts, treaties and trade agreements. Somehow he thinks that such isolationism would solve American economic woes more effectively than global commerce. Possibly a review of trade and the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries would help him understand.

He has no apprehension about an Iranian nuclear capability. He doesn't seem to appreciate a linkage between Iran's bomb and the existential threat to Israel which it represents. He doesn't find anything to worry about with regard to terrorism and nuclear weapons. Ditto for N. Korea, Venezuela and all of the other nuclear aspirants.

Probably most grating to me is his very populist bleat about our immediate withdrawal from "un-declared and un-winnable wars."

Apparently he is stuck in 1941 with regard to creation of a formal document in which the Congress assembled comes together in majestic prose to initiate hostility against a threat or in response to an attack. Unaware that the appropriations power of the House and the legislative budgeting for military operations which have supported wars for the last 70 years are effective "declarations." If post-911 wasn't a declaration of war against terrorist forces without regard to borders, I don't know what it would take.

As for "un-winnable", as a career warrior I will never support any Commander-in-Chief that fails to accept the core premise that when the US enters conflict it is by definition winnable. It is the leadership that makes it winnable and Mr. Paul lacks that.

I could go on, but a review of Ron Paul's long and detailed history of policy pronouncements will tell you much more. His positions on immigration, illegal drugs, the death penalty, public education, economics, energy policy, etc. are all superficial and initially appealing to the naive, idealistic and dedicated followers. The only question remaining is why they were wearing red T-shirts in Ames. I've always thought the brown shirts and dark brown ties with the armband insignia was so much more impressive.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Morning Rocker

Well, actually, I have been to Spain...a lot! I lived there for four years and made regular visits back there from German for another three. Good folks, good times, good food, good memories!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hits and Misses in Ames

I watched the show last night and will confess to being surprised. Some that I thought might be viable proved incredibly inept. Some that I thought dead-on-arrival proved remarkably resilient. And one that I had thought certifiably insane reinforced my opinion.

Despite Bret Baier's plea at the start to set-aside the pre-scripted sound-bites and list of talking points several of the candidates couldn't cut loose from the rehearsal. In the process they appeared lame, unresponsive and pandering. The ones who succeeded in answering direct questions with direct answers looked presidential and intelligent--which may be something aggressively demanded by next year's voters.

The leader of recovery and arguably the most intelligent, thoughtful and impressive performance of the night came from the gentleman that everyone has already written off. Newt Gingrich was powerful and particularly when he bitch-slapped Chris Wallace, he looked far from comatose. Will the electorate notice? That's hard to say. The folks in Iowa are supposed to be politically astute but the straw poll on Saturday isn't about that so much as organization, bus convoys of supporters and paid-off sycophants who will write your name on the ballot in exchange for two hot-dogs and a glass of cheap Chardonnay.

The polling leader going into the debate looked pathetic. Michelle Bachmann said nothing substantive and repeated uber-conservative cliches without end. She really didn't enunciate any policy positions, cite any achievement specifics or even avoid a Minnesota internecine spat with Tim Pawlenty which was demeaning to both of them.

Pawlenty proved himself ready for a one-way ticket back to St. Paul. He was, if possible, worse than Bachmann. His rote line was about being a governor and succeeding in leaving his state in paralysis. He somehow believed that his gubernatorial performance was going to outshine Romney's but in the process may have forgotten the silent elephant in the room, three-term successful Gov. Rick Perry. His exchange with Bachmann got no votes for either of them.

The guy on a roll throughout the day was Mitt Romney. From the early morning out-takes of his dust-up with a paid heckler at a morning rally, he blanketed the news shows until he finished big in the debate. He had clear answers. He covered his solutions. He dodged the moderator's bullets and he looked competent and coherent. I've not been a Romney fan, but I could definitely see him taking home the trophy next year. That wouldn't be a bad outcome for me.

Truly pathetic in performance was Jon Huntsman. He looked tired and washed out, with a deer-in-the-headlights wide-eyed stare to accompany bland pronouncements of absolutely no substance. There was simply no "there" there.

Much improved, but probably not going to last in the race, was Rick Santorum. He displayed a good sense of humor as he battled for time from an obviously odd-man-out position in the pecking order. He spoke well, rebutted several times with impact, and had appeal. It will be too little and already too late, but he did well.

Herman Cain was strong as well. He took opportunities to clarify some earlier controversial statements that have adversely impacted his campaign. He was well prepared and he had policy positions which he could explain in brief that might be difficult to implement but they were understandable to the crowd. He could place well on Saturday but is clearly a no-pun-intended dark horse in a white-bread state like Iowa.

The nut job-du-jour was Ron Paul. I had begun to drift back to a point where I considered him reasonably competent after my initial astonishment at his positions four years ago when he ran. Last night he disproved any notions I might have harbored regarding his lucidity. He rambled and meandered through answers that seemed both philosophical and obtuse. His ultra-Libertarian views are far out of the mainstream of America and maybe even far from the odd-ball rivulets of American politics as well.

On the way home: Pawlenty, Santorum, Paul, Huntsman and hopefully Bachmann.
On their way to success: Romney, Gingrich and maybe Cain.
Serious contender: Perry.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why We Have a Problem

Once again the debate is circling around to an extension of unemployment benefits. You may remember the last time this subject came up. That was when we were stretching payments for not working out to 99 weeks, essentially two full years of watching Judge Judy and the Fishing Channel without having to get up in the morning, get dressed or contribute a thing to society.

You remember the concept of unemployment insurance, don't you? It was set up by states, remember the concept of federalism? It was contributory by employers so that it discouraged arbitrary and wholesale lay-offs. If too many of your former employees wound up on the dole, your contributions to the fund went up. It lasted about 26 weeks, which was deemed a suitable time for a bit of assistance in keeping body and soul together while seeking a new position.

Now it is federal, it is strictly redistribution, and it is seemingly without end.

Want to know what sort of rationale explains why that has come about? Look no further than the deer in the headlights spokesman of the Messiah himself:

Unemployment Is the Best Economic Stimulus

It is hard to overlook the smug, insulting, superior attitude that accompanies such drivel when addressed to a Wall Street Journal reporter in the White House Press Corps. What an arrogant ass!

But once you get past that, then examine what he says.

How does keeping 30 million potential producers on their butts with an enduring stipend build gross domestic product? What do you spend your unemployment check on that you wouldn't have been required to buy regardless? You don't go out and buy a new car, a 3D Hi-Def flat screen, a luxury watch, a new house, or even a flashy new computer. You buy food, pay your utility bills and hope you can keep ahead of the mortgage.

In essence you sustain, but you sure as hell don't grow. That's the part that should have been on your entry exam, Mr. Carney.

The greatest motivator for taking a job is actually NEEDING one. Your need goes down when a government check arrives every month. You aren't encouraged to lower your expectations of compensation at previous levels if you can get just as much for doing nothing. Economies grow when people work. Economies shrink when government takes money out of the economy and distributes it to people who don't work.

Got that, Carney?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Any Questions About This?

Somehow the whole concept of private property, free markets, supply/demand, Adam Smith's invisible hand, and the role of government was omitted from the training of the Chief Executive Officer of the Nation.

What questions come to mind when you read this tidbit:

Fannie and Freddie Become National Landlords 

At first glance, I ask whether Fannie and Freddie are the owners. There is a distinct difference between property which the corrupt federal mortgage facilitators actually funded and those private mortgage loans which the government merely guaranteed. Some very clear lines would have to be drawn regarding who has what rights in this. Without a close look that pesky Constitutional provision about being deprived of property without due process seems to come into play.

Then, who is going to rent these formerly private residences? If Fannie and Freddie rent them to the same sort of folks to whom they issued mortgages in the first place, i.e. those with neither income, credit rating or demonstrable capability to pay; how is this going to do anything?

Who will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the properties. I lived once in a new neighborhood with newly built homes. Over a period of a bit more than 10 years, many of the original owners were reassigned or moved but elected to keep the property and rent it out. It didn't take long before you could easily identify the rentals from the owned homes. Yards unkempt, fences down, paint peeling, windows broken, inoperative vehicles in the driveways, all indicative of a group without a vested interest in the property.

What impact does this availability of government owned and hence subsidized rentals have on the marketplace. Say I own a six unit condo and seek to rent it for my own business. Can I compete with Uncle Sam who offers the two buildings down the block to "worthy applicants."

And, of course, there will be inevitable issues of how the rentals will be allocated and what quotas for neighborhood diversity will be overlaid on the program. Social engineering will run rampant.

Mao and Lenin ran a program a lot like this, I think. Expect to see a lot of uniformly gray houses on the streets in a few years.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On the Wisdom of the Bamster

How low can esteem for the President drop? This item might be seen on an irreverent college blog. It could be something encountered on The Onion. It might be a satirical piece written for distribution to your mailing list.

But this is on the Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal today and it is deadly serious:

The Emperor is Naked and Stupid Too!

Daring to say what needed to be said is uncommon these days but when encountered it is certainly refreshing. But wait! Maybe it is becoming common:

More On Stupid!

Lower the Bar

There used to be a joke in the military about how to phrase evaluation reports in a kind way. One of the tired jokes was the line:
Sets consistently low standards and fails to meet them.
That apparently is the model being used by Arne Duncan, the Messiah's Secretary of Education. You don't need to be a news junkie to know that a continual bleat of the NEA is that the demands for standardized testing imposed by the No Child Left Behind legislation make their job too difficult and detract from important education on things like Gay History, the nuances of performance art, and the lack of a relationship between global warming and economic stagnation. Here's his solution to the impending failure of a majority of union-infested schools:

Can't Pass? Then Waiver and Advance Anyway!

Somehow ignored in all of this are such basics as the concept that public education in America is traditionally a responsibility of local communities. The local school district, the non-partisan citizen Board of Education, the acceptance of a locally set ad valorem property tax and the establishment of local curriculum, text book selections and teacher qualification criteria are all abandoned in yet another usurpation of federal authority.

In a classic tail wagging dog arrangement we see local school districts funding nearly half of the expense, states supplying supplemental funds ranging roughly 40-50% of the cost depending upon the state, and the feds coughing up less than 10% of the money for K-12 schools. Yet the DOE calls the tune.

Entire generations mouth the whining gripe about "teaching to the test" somehow ignoring the fact that if we don't teach what is expected to be learned then when the evaluation comes we will fail in life.

K-12 education is about performance of elemental skills to an acceptable adult standard. We must be proficient in reading and writing to communicate in our society. We must understand some basic mathematical operations to prepare for more advanced tasks. We must have some familiarity with the history which preceded us and the planet on which we live. These are standard-based tasks. They can be measured objectively. When the standard is evaluated you can reach above or below the line. That is a meaningful number and not at all debatable.

You could argue that the standard is poorly set and irrelevant. That means go back and review your standard. But then you must test to insure performance to that level is achieved before advancing to the next level.

You can't simply waiver and pronounce, "no harm, no foul."

Unless, of course, you want to keep receiving union contributions and harvesting the votes of the ignorati.


I'm continually astonished by student responses in class that affirm a deeply held entitlement mentality. They are uniformly indoctrinated to believe that society is obligated to fulfill their needs. They live immersed in a world in which healthcare as a right is just the peak of the chain. They know that they don't need to work because there is extended (and extended again) unemployment compensation. (Think about that oxymoron: "unemployment compensation"!) They can quote you chapter and verse of programs with legalistic names like "Title 9 Housing Assistance" or CHIP--state funded children's medical insurance, or WIP for grocery payments.

They are astounded when a line is drawn between those basic unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence and the expectations of fulfillment of what should be individual responsibilities.

Take a look at this recent action taken way too late by the vestiges of what used to be the industrialized state of Michigan:

30,000 College Students Learn of TNSTAAFL

I particularly like this student's reaction:
Kayla Neff, a 19-year-old Spanish and computer science student at Central Michigan University who qualified for food stamps in September, said it's tough to find a job in Michigan, particularly for students with little experience.
Neff said she and her father share about $150 a month in grocery money from the program, which "made all the difference in the world," but her eligibility is now under review.
"Students should be focusing on their education, not whether or not they'll be able to eat dinner or whether they can manage to find a job and balance it on top of their studies," Neff said in a Friday email interview from Mount Pleasant.
In that brief summary we see a generational dependence. She and her father share their expectation of government buying the groceries. She is going to college...want to guess who is picking up the tuition, books, fees? She notes "it's tough to find a job...with little experience." Duh! You take your first job with no experience and that is where experience comes from. The first experience you get is learning the value of what your labor earns. Maybe learning to feed yourself should be a prerequisite for college.

The thinking isn't new. It is embedded in the culture. It isn't simply ignored. It is taught from generation to generation. It is not only tolerated, it is encouraged.
Many see using food stamps while attending school as a scam, and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick described it in much that way in his new autobiography.
Kilpatrick, who was recently released from state prison after serving time for violating probation and awaits trial on federal corruption charges, revealed he used food stamps when he attended Florida A&M University in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time, his mother was a state representative and his father was a top Wayne County official.
"The food stamp game is an old hook-up in neighborhoods from Detroit to Tallahassee," Kilpatrick said in the book. "If you could get them, especially as a struggling college student, then you did."
Kilpatrick is certainly one to know and understand what that is about.

Monday, August 08, 2011

In Favor Of the Old Way

They've been bleating about the presidential election for several months now. The fact that the election is 15 months away and that the first casting of a single citizen's meaningful vote will not occur for five months seems irrelevant.

This morning I listened to the breathless analysis of the Ames Iowa "straw poll" which will follow a beauty contest debate, swim suit, evening gown and talent show on Thursday evening. This was hyped as serious prediction stuff despite the historic record that the straw poll winner does not readily equate with the Iowa caucus winner which does not link very well to the party nominees which may not have squat to do with the eventual Presidential victor.

That means that there is some value to reviewing what the Founding Fathers set up for us. Iowa was, of course, not even a gleam in some pundit's eye in 1789. Here's the section of Article II of the Constitution which describes the selection of the Chief Executive:
Clause 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. 
Clause 3: The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.  
Clause 4: The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Did you notice that there is not a single mention of any citizen-at-large casting a vote?

A very strong case can be made for the wisdom of having state legislatures chose electors by some methodology undefined here. Those relatively few individuals would most assuredly have the benefit of some governmental understanding, experience and judgment. We might be able to find disagreement but we would be hard pressed to deny that they were generally literate and informed.

The result would be much more likely less of a popularity contest. The campaigns would be much more focused and much less expensive.  The candidates would be considerably more capable. The results might be decidedly superior to what we have got now.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Thoughts Encountered In An Old Book

I am a man. This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!

I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.

I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others. I covet no man's soul, nor is my soul theirs to covet.

I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born. I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.

I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire. For in the temple of his spirit, each man is alone. Let each man keep his temple untouched and undefiled. Then let him join hands with others if he wishes, but only beyond his holy threshold.

For the word "We" must never be spoken, save by one's choice and as a second thought. This word must never be placed first within man's soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils on earth, the root of man's torture by men, and of an unspeakable lie.

The word "We" is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages. 
And if you can't read that and see the very clear difference between a liberal and a conservative then you must be blind.

Several years ago when my first book, "When Thunder Rolled" was released someone criticized it as being too dependent upon the first person, "I" in the writing. I could only ask him in what terms he would like me to tell my experiences, my feelings, my story. If not "I" then whom?

This excerpt comes from Ayn Rand's very short distopian fable, "Anthem". You can read it in about half an hour and you can see a future in her thoughts.

On Ice

Take a look at this video.

Norway's Royal Guard...

Yes, they are doing all that on ice!!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hard to Sugar Coat It

So we got the debt limit increase and a tentative promise (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) to cut government spending in the sweet bye-n-bye. How did the markets respond? That was the screaming of Richie Rich bailing out of his penthouse suite yesterday. A 512 point decline is not the expected response to good economic news.

And, in Chicago, the emperor danced before a throng of his adoring followers.

Now I'm not a real believer of a guy who writes a publication called the "Boom, Gloom and Doom Report" but there isn't much here to disagree with:

Crash, Crumple, Worthless Paper and War

You might want to get out the history books and review some past experiences. Take a look first at the Weimar Republic.

The situation there was post-WW I Germany. They had punitive reparations imposed as part of the treaty of Versailles. They couldn't rebuild their shattered nation while giving up huge chunks of their production to Britain and France. The solution was "monetization." That's simply printing more money. Print day and night at max production. That isn't creating something from nothing. It is simply making more pieces of currency which still is a fraction of the total value of the nation. Each piece when you have many more pieces is worth less than eventually worthless. Taken to extremes it is called hyper-inflation. Think of what that does to your savings, your investments, your wages, your retirement.

That's the solution of QE-1, QE-2 and the increasingly probable QE-3. We aren't talking Cunard liners here. We're talking in euphemisms. It is monetarization renamed "quantitive easing". It is an increase in the total money supply which essentially makes each single unit worth less...and less.

Then skip a few years in that history book. Fast forward to 1933 and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The depression means he must act aggressively in response to public demands for help. He drastically expands the power of the federal government. It isn't usurpation, it is response to the mandate of the masses. Do we see a similarity today?

The only essential difference is that then people demanded action to get back to productivity. Today people demand action because they believe that government will sustain them with housing, money, cell phones, food, child care, cable TV, internet access, education through college and beyond and of course health care. No work, just enjoy.

The Keynesian solution of pump-priming or flooding the market with government largess didn't really solve the Depression. The solution didn't come from New Deal policies. It came quite simply from World War II. Put the unemployed in uniform. Turn the factories on 24 hours a day producing rapidly consumed war materials and then reap the harvest of huge pent-up demand for civilian products after the war.

I hadn't been truly worried until yesterday. This isn't going to work out well.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tweedledum Or Tweedledee

Remember all those people who told you that it didn't matter who got elected? They were all Tweedledum or Tweedledee and nothing every changed? Remember them?

Have you talked to any of them lately?

Remember the ones who were dissatisfied by the Republican candidate for President? He wasn't conservative enough! The GOP needed to be taught a lesson! They would sit out the election to show the party who was boss.

Have you run into any of them lately?

A Realization

I've always had a place in the recesses of my mind for Frank Zappa, but it took this reprise found at "The Other McCain" to create the realization that the reason I like him is that he's a conservative!

Listen to what the man says:

Be Careful What You Wish For

Some people really don't get it. They look but they don't see. They have an agenda and a warped perspective which somehow excuses what they do and then makes the exact same behavior in a lesser degree totally reprehensible.

Try this example:

Seeking An "American Spring"

Some things to note, Mr. Gore:

The Arab Spring is about populist uprisings with lots of violence to cast off oppressive regimes. Either you are comparing the American government as oppressive, which isn't totally incorrect these days, or you are seeking a societal disruption, massive destruction of the major population centers and subsequently a government mobilization and repression of the revolution.

The situation may be described as oppressive in some rhetorical descriptions, but I don't think we are yet at the armed uprising stage. That may take another year or two.

Looking at the whole article, it is difficult to understand exactly what Gore is looking for. The only conclusion I can reach is that he doesn't know what he is talking about either.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Bernanke Waxes Eloquently at Neighborhood Bar

Thanks to Billy Beck for drawing my attention to this news:

Bernanke Plays "Money For Nothing Five Times in a Row"

Sometime a guy simply has to let his hair down and tell it like it is.

Convoluted Business Sense

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. Stuff a crappy electric car down the public's throat and you will be ignored in favor of space, practicality, utility and performance. Convenience and style might play a factor as well.

Get a load of these high VOLTage numbers:

July Sales Soar to 125 Units!

So, what would a government run company do in response to that undeniably tepid market reaction?

Since introduction last year, the marque has sold 2700 cars total. So that means increase production to 5000 per month! Yep, that's double the sales for the last eight months and 40 times the most recent monthly sales.

I guess the strategy is that if you've got a thousand on the dealer's lot they will displace the inventory that the public seeks to buy and therefore you will choose one by default.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Federal Tax Dollars at Work

Here's a story that should make you feel sooooo much safer in your homes and eager to see that the government got a goodly chunk of your pay check:

US Fish & Wildlife Agent Does Duty, Intimidates 11-Year Old, Supports Cat Delicacies

Is there no adult supervision there?

When Is It Not The Law?

The debate rages over illegal immigration. That's what we call it, isn't it?

Aren't there existing federal laws regarding how a citizen of another nation enters this country? Don't we have a system of visas, short/long term visitations, naturalization processes, even an "Immigration Control & Enforcement" agency replete with black jackets, cool SWAT gear and heavy-duty door busting rams?

So, what then to make of this business in which the Department of Justice (which may be emerging as the #1 oxymoron of the 21st Century) sues yet another state:

Alabama Merits Federal Smack-down

It may seem a bit harsh, but it certainly is a reflection of state government dealing with a pressing state issue. The burden on state education, state services, state law enforcement, state security seems apparent.

What amazes me is this federal rationale:
The Justice Department, in its filing, says a state cannot set its own immigration policy and cannot pass laws that conflict with federal immigration laws.
"To put it in terms we relate to here in Alabama, you can only have one quarterback in a football game. In immigration, the federal government is the quarterback," said Joyce Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

I simply cannot see how what Alabama wants to do is "in conflict" with federal laws. It seems that federal enforcement and policy is in conflict with federal laws. What Alabama wants to do is aid and assist the feds who apparently are either unaware of their laws or incapable of doing anything about them.

Monday, August 01, 2011

XXX--A True Raven Story--XXX

All good aviation stories start and/or end with a disclaimer, "TINS". The decoding of that acronym is something like "this is not spoofing." Or so they tell me.

This is not my story, but I know several Ravens therefore I have little reason to doubt it:

  By now I expect most of you have seen the remarkable photo taken of a
Navy F-18 just at the instant it broke the sound barrier.  But as any
student of aviation history will tell you, just about anything that's ever
been done by a Navy jock has been done previously (and better) by a Raven.

In looking through some old photos I came across the attached, and since
many years have passed and much of Project 404 is no longer classified, I
can now tell the true story of William (Billy) Buzzard and the amazing
supersonic Bird Dog.
In May of 1969, Buzzard decided that the tech order limiting airspeed for the 0-1 was somewhat conservative, and set about proving this notion by mixing a fuel that was roughly equal parts 115/145 avgas, lau-lau and some hot sauce he got from a Hmong woman in Longtienne.  I think he threw in a handful of mothballs, too. 
At 0745 on the morning of May 13th, he took off
from Longtienne and headed toward the Plain of Jars.  I was flying on his
wing, mostly in a spirit of idle curiosity but also to spot the wreckage.
Buzzard climbed to 10,000 feet, opened the throttle and shoved the nose
down.  I was at 2000 feet, and as he passed me on his way to aviation
history I caught the photo with my trusty Pentax.  Not only had Billy
Buzzard broken the sound barrier in a Bird Dog, he had done it with the
cockpit windows open:  surely a record that would top just about anything!
Alas, Billy Buzzard's record was never recorded.  Elated by his success,
he headed for Vientiane where he landed, stole a jeep and drove to Ecole
d'Lulu where he engaged a "student" from the Ecole for another record
attempt.  He took off from Vientiane with the "student" in the back seat,
vowing that he would be the first Raven to get a supersonic air start.  I was
unable to keep up with him as he crossed Ritaville Ridge at approximately
300 knots, and he was never seen again. 
Perhaps the air start procedure (dicey at best in a tandem-seat aircraft) distracted Buzzard at a critical moment, or maybe he was hit by a missile fired by some jealous F4 jock from the Triple Nickel (a gun kill by a 555th pilot being most unlikely).  Who knows?  I like to think that he headed out across the Pacific until he found a tropical paradise and is still living there today, older but no wiser at all than he was in 1969.  In any event, I often think of Billy Buzzard and his supersonic Bird Dog, and I'm sure glad I found the photo that proves the truth of this story.  TINS

The Founders Foresaw the Day

Thomas Jefferson:
To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s 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—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.
 I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. 
 When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
 John Adams:

“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

Benjamin Franklin:
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. 
Alexander Hamilton:
I believe the British government forms the best model the world ever produced, and such has been its progress in the minds of the many, that this truth gradually gains ground. This government has for its objectpublic strength and individual security. It is said with us to be unattainable. All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? 
You could easily find many more, but the clear belief seeming to pervade their statements is that allowing a mass to confiscate the wealth, property, rights and estates of the industrious is an inevitable long-term result of democracy.

That truth accounts for their establishment of a republican form with very limited mass electorate involvement in decision making. The democratization of America in which we introduced popular election of the Senate, wide expansion of suffrage, and a popularity contest among the general populace for the Presidency are all steps along the path of destruction.

Simply watching the day's activity on the debt ceiling debate is all the confirmation you would need.