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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Here's To Democracy

I agree with Christian Trejbal, Roanoke Times:
Republicans must wait until November

On June 9, Virginia Democrats will elect candidates to run for governor and lieutenant governor in November. Republicans, however, do not want their voters to have a say in those decisions.

When party leaders worry that the rank and file might not vote for the anointed candidate, they convene a state convention to select a nominee. Technically just about anyone may attend, but in practice, only dedicated insiders show up. The difference is a couple of thousand loyalists at a convention or 150,000 or more voters in a primary.

This year, Democrats went with a primary.

Republicans were less democratic (small-d) and went with a convention.

Pick your hackneyed metaphor. Primaries are the crucible that leaves only the candidate who burns brightest and longest. Primaries are a Petri dish in which candidates fight for survival like so many protozoa. Primaries are natural selection at work, the fittest candidate emerging victorious to confront the other party's nominee and any third-party upstarts.

Primaries give Virginians a chance to shape the general election and have a greater voice in Richmond. Granted, turnout is often minuscule, but it is still larger and a bit more diverse than attendance at a party convention. [link]
I'm not a Republican so I can't say whether this was an attempt on the part of the state GOP to keep Democrats from crossing over and choosing Republican candidates for high office (how is Emmett Hanger doing these days, by the way?) or simply a cost-saving measure. But it's not as democratic ("small-d") as I'd like to see.

Again, I have no rooster in this fight. So do what you're going to do. It just seems that there's a principle at stake here, one that's being dumped on.

Good Thoughts On a Terrible Idea

The Roanoke Times comes out this morning in opposition to an Obama administration tax increase proposal. Pinch me; I must be dreaming:
Health care's taxing subtext
editorial

Talk of health care reform could turn to talk of tax reform in Washington as policymakers consider how to pay for broadly expanded coverage from a budget already gushing red ink.

And, surprisingly, talk of tax reform could turn to talk of a valued-added tax -- surprisingly, because a VAT is a consumption tax, built into the price of goods and services. As such, it is regressive. It falls harder on the poor than the wealthy as a percentage of income.

That's a political taboo, and quite properly so. [link]
I don't know about it being a political taboo anymore. If it were the case, Democrats in Obama's administration wouldn't be talking so openly - and enthusiastically - about it.

But the Times is right. The VAT is as regressive a tax as there has ever been devised (except maybe for cigarette taxes). Even worse, it is a crushing tax on production. Which makes it a monstrous tax on consumers.

Here's how it works.

Unlike a simple national sales tax (which I support in lieu of the personal income tax, the alternative minimum tax, corporate income taxes, capital gains taxes, payroll taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes, luxury taxes, estate taxes, etc.), a one-time tax that is levied "at the cash register," the Value-Added Tax is levied at each stage of manufacture and distribution.

The Times mentions a gallon of milk. Try to imagine the dairy farmer who's in the milk business. He buys grain for his cows. That grain has been VAT taxed. His electricity has been VAT taxed. The equipment he uses. Taxed. The fuel he expends. The food he consumes. Tools. Clothing.

Then he sells his milk to a distributor. That transaction is VAT taxed.

The distributor sells the milk to your local Citgo. Another Vat tax.

Citgo sells it to you. And you pay a VAT tax.

And a Vat tax. And a Vat tax. And a Vat tax. And a Vat tax. And a Vat tax. And ...

Remember too, this is in addition to all the taxes you're currently paying.

The best argument against it? Parts of Europe adopted the VAT years ago, and Europe, through VAT refunds and a recent decision to lower the VAT with regard to certain products and materials, is rapidly backing away from it.

Take a moment and look at an endangered species here in the USA - the manufacturer (think of the manufacturer in the labor-intensive tent manufacturing business just up the road). As if those who build things in this country don't have enough problems. A crushing tax on all phases of production? Say hello to the new Chinese tent builder, folks.

So. Obama will need to find a different way of taxing us into oblivion.

And I'm sure he'll find it. Regardless of his empty campaign promises.

- - -

* As a side note, the Roanoke Times seems to take for granted the notion that the government will need to raise taxes in order to reduce health care costs. Take a moment and think that through. The feds need a trillion of our dollars in order to save us ... something less than a trillion dollars. Hello? I say: Beware the fool who believes the government has ever saved itself or anyone else one red cent.

- - -

** For everything you'll ever want to know about the VAT tax, go to The Heritage Foundation.

As It Should Be

There should be a rule. The Wings should be in every Stanley Cup final. It's just the way things oughta be.

2009: The way things oughta be.

Whopper Of The Day

I love reading the New York Times. The dripping hypocrisy just makes my day.

On the editorial page this morning, "Judging Sonia Sotomayor," an editorial:

"Clearly, conservative groups and Republican elected officials see this nomination as a way to score points off wedge issues that excite their base. It diminishes everyone when a nomination process deteriorates into character assassination and ethnic intolerance." [my emphasis]

Really.

This from the same New York Times that, not long ago, gave us "For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk":

"Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But ... "

And who can forget this, from "Palin Disclosures Raise Questions on Vetting":

"A series of disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain’s choice as running mate, called into question on Monday how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background before putting her on the Republican presidential ticket.

"On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

"While there was no sign that her formal nomination this week was in jeopardy, the questions swirling around Ms. Palin on the first day of the Republican National Convention, already disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, brought anxiety to Republicans who worried that Democrats would use the selection of Ms. Palin to question Mr. McCain’s judgment and his ability to make crucial decisions."

Yeah, we can't be having any of that character assassination.

These guys crack me up.

And While We're On The Subject ...

... how about this for jaw-dropping hypocrisy?
Obama Cautions Against 'Political Games' With Court Pick
By Michael D. Shear, Washington Post

President Obama warned yesterday against "attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games" during the consideration of his nominee to the Supreme Court, and he urged senators to get to work on the nomination without delay.

"What I hope is that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this process, and Congress, in the past." [link]
Well, let's look at Congress in the recent past:
First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process
By Jake Tapper, ABC News

President Obama's expressed hope today in his weekly address "that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this (Supreme Court nomination) process, and Congress, in the past" runs against another historical first for the 44th president: his unique role in history as the first US President to have ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.

In January 2006, then-Sen. Obama joined 24 colleagues in a futile effort led by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of now-Justice Samuel Alito. [link]
Utterly hypocritical. Utterly pathetic.

This Is Cool

I hope we never take Weather.com for granted. It is a wonder of modern technology, worthy of our undying praise.

Just a few clicks of the mouse and ...

Just a few short years ago we had to look outside at the horizon to know what was in store for us in the way of storms. Now we can easily prepare.

An incredible advancement.

Here's to ingenuity.

* Click on the image to enlarge it.

In Perpetuity

How much are we willing to dump down the Government Motors rat hole just to keep overpaid workers employed?

Here's the latest estimate on GM's prospects. And they aren't good:
Industry Fears U.S. May Quit New Car Habit
By Micheline Maynard, New York Times

The Treasury Department’s advisers, who initially expected auto sales to pick up late next year, now foresee no jump in demand this year or in 2010. And even five years out, they expect annual sales to be about 15 million, still well below the peaks of this decade.

Making predictions is tricky in this economy. The market has grown more bleak, and worst-case scenarios drafted only months ago are becoming reality.

If sales do not recover, the Treasury will have to provide more financial support for G.M. and for Chrysler, which has received about $10 billion in federal aid, before they can stand on their own and the government can divest its shares. [link]
The article addresses the notion that Americans may not wish to buy new cars in numbers that traditionally kept all the manufacturers afloat. But the bigger question is: Will Americans be willing to buy a GM or Chrysler vehicle in the future - what with the mess they've created for themselves - as opposed to Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, or Nissan, which (along with GM) ruled the world before the collapse hit?

I think we know the answer.

So we now find ourselves in possession of a rat hole. What's to be done with it?

Whereas The Press Once Covered The News ...

... now it covers what it wants to cover.

Three questions:

How many taxpayer tea parties have been held in recent months around the country?

How many of them drew hundreds of participants?

How many of them made the national wire services?

The answers:

Hundreds.

Hundreds.

And zero.

But let "hundreds" of gay people get together and protest and, by God, it's national news!
Hundreds March for Gay Marriage in Central Calif.
By the Associated Press

Fresno, Calif. (AP) -- Hundreds of same-sex couples and their supporters marched Saturday through dusty California farm towns, pushing for gay marriage in the state's conservative center.

Just days after the state's highest court upheld a ban on gay marriage, advocates said they wouldn't be dissuaded, and vowed to win the hearts and minds of those who reject their unions.

Hundreds of spirited marchers were escorted by the California Highway Patrol along an aging highway to Fresno, a city ... [link]
"Hundreds." There were that many in Abingdon alone last month. But did the press care?

No. Those in attendance weren't oppressed minorities. They were just oppressed taxpayers. So, to hell with them.

On a related note, I hear the press is dying ...

An American Perspective

From P.J. O'Rourke:
I don’t believe the pointy-heads give a damn about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car.

The American automobile is—that is, was—never a product of Japanese-style industrialism. America’s steel, coal, beer, beaver pelts and PCs may have come from our business plutocracy, but American cars have been manufactured mostly by romantic fools. David Buick, Ransom E. Olds, Louis Chevrolet, Robert and Louis Hupp of the Hupmobile, the Dodge brothers, the Studebaker brothers, the Packard brothers, the Duesenberg brothers, Charles W. Nash, E. L. Cord, John North Willys, Preston Tucker and William H. Murphy, whose Cadillac cars were designed by the young Henry Ford, all went broke making cars.

America’s romantic foolishness with cars is finished, however, or nearly so. In the far boondocks a few good old boys haven’t got the memo and still tear up the back roads. Doubtless the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation is even now calculating a way to tap federal stimulus funds for mandatory OnStar installations to locate and subdue these reprobates. [link]
Alas. They say it all has to come to an end. The end of an era. The American era.

What will the next era bring?

Why SotoMayor Needs To Be Denounced

If we are ever going to "get beyond race," we must call out those who live by it:
Sotomayor’s focus on race issues may be hurdle
By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times

Washington - The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court has opened a new battle in the fight over affirmative action and other race-conscious remedies for patterns of inequality, with each side invoking the election of the first black president in support of its cause.

Judge Sotomayor, whose parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico, has championed the importance of considering race and ethnicity in admissions, hiring and even judicial selection at almost every stage of her career — as a student activist at Princeton and at Yale Law School, as a board member of left-leaning Hispanic advocacy groups and as a federal judge arguing for diversity on the bench.

Now conservatives say her strong identification with such race-based approaches to the law is perhaps the strongest argument against her confirmation, contending that her views put her outside an evolving consensus that such race-conscious public policy is growing obsolete. [link]
I don't know how affirmative action got into this discussion. Although the possibility certainly exists, I haven't seen or read of anyone bringing it up in recent weeks. The point is, we don't need to be promoting anyone in this day and age whose thinking is blinded by skin color.

A famous American said this:

"There is not a black America and a white America... . There’s the United States of America.”

And then that same famous American nominates Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

It looks like it was all about race all along.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Barack Obama (actually uttered on March 30*):

"We cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of taxpayer dollars. These companies -- and this industry -- must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state."

This was spoken at a time when he wanted to flush six billion tax dollars down the GM/Chrysler toilet. Just after the government had dumped 17.5 billion into that same sewer.

Today? $50 billion. Just for the GM commode.

For the love of God.

* Info courtesy of the Washington Post.

If Promises Were Jobs ...

... Martinsville would have full employment.

Obama made a stop there and promised ... jobs.

Biden came. And went.

Warner, Kaine, Webb, Kaine, McAuliffe, Kaine, Deeds, Moran ...

Promises. Promises. Promises.
Troubled Va. Town Gets Attention but Wants Action
By Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post Staff Writer

Martinsville, Va. -- No one in this tiny Southside mill town likes to be reminded of its tough luck, or its distinction of having the highest jobless rate in Virginia.

But there is a pushy group of job seekers who won't let anyone forget.

Politicians.

Ever since this city's textile and furniture plants collapsed a decade or so ago, political candidates of all persuasions have arrived for campaign stops that sometimes resemble bedside visits to a critically ill patient. The message is straightforward: In their hands, even the sickest will become well.

In stump speeches, debates and bullet points, the city's 20.8 percent unemployment rate has become a set piece for a broader discussion of the state's recessionary woes.

What remains unclear to residents of Martinsville and similar textile towns across the industrial South is whether there is much of anything the politicians can do after the campaigns have passed by. Even President Obama, who toured Patrick Henry Community College's innovative motor sports training program in the fall with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine at his side, has not produced a prescription for the town's troubles. [link]
Barack Obama came to Martinsville in August looking for votes. He promised the people there that he wouldn't forget them. He got their votes. Unemployment has accelerated. He never came back.

Does Anyone Believe This?

When the government puts out crap like this every day, complacency starts to set in. Too bad. In truth, this is a crying shame:
U.S. Hopes To Recoup GM Outlay In 5 Years
By Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post Staff Writer

The United States would recover most of its planned $50 billion investment in General Motors within five years, according to a preliminary Treasury Department estimate that foresees the company, now on the brink of bankruptcy, rebounding over that time to become a strapping global competitor.

By putting billions of dollars into the ailing automaker, the Obama administration has placed a huge bet on the effort to revive and streamline the company through the elimination of brands, dealerships and factories. Yesterday, the company's union announced that it had approved a cost-cutting contract and GM neared an agreement to shed its Opel brand. [link]
This comes, of course, from a president and minions who have never run a business and don't know the first thing about how to do so.

Here's Obama on the subject:

"My hope … is that we will see both GM and Chrysler having emerged from this restructuring process leaner, meaner, more competitive with a set of product lines that appeal to consumers, good cars that are fuel efficient and that look at the markets of tomorrow."

That "hope" thing again.

Well, I hope that somewhere in his law school studies there were classes on how to turn around the most screwed-up corporations in American history, because it's going to take more than hope to accomplish that which the best minds in the business community failed - utterly - to achieve.

It's worth noting that this non-businessman is fine with another 50 billion of your tax dollars being invested in a company that is currently worth about 1% of that amount.

Me? I say: Let's take that $50 billion and buy beer. At least there'll be some short-term reward. And when pissed away, it won't have any less lasting effects than Obama's "hope" has.

Another President, Another Barrage Of Warnings

Kim Jong-il to subordinate: "File this in the warehouse marked Empty U.S. Warnings."

North Korea Is Warned by Gates on Testing

"File it under May, 2009 (vault G)."

Why The Chinese Will Rule The World

Would you hire a Harvard MBA if your intent was to maximize shareholder equity?
A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality
By Leslie Wayne, New York Times

When a new crop of future business leaders graduates from the Harvard Business School next week, many of them will be taking a new oath that says, in effect, greed is not good.

Nearly 20 percent of the graduating class have signed “The M.B.A. Oath,” a voluntary student-led pledge that the goal of a business manager is to “serve the greater good.” It promises that Harvard M.B.A.’s will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others.

What happened to making money? [link]
If the "greater good" involves anything other than corporate earnings, I wouldn't let these misguided fools clean the corporate bathrooms. And I get the impression that that is the case:
“It’s been a dramatic change,” [Diana C. Robertson, a professor of business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania] added. “This generation was raised learning about the environment and raised with the idea of a social conscience. That does not apply to every student. But this year’s financial crisis and the downturn have brought about a greater emphasis on social ethics and responsibility.”
The environment. Social conscience.

Meanwhile, the Chinese, who seem to have learned what business schools are all about, are churning out money managers whose goal it is to enrich the owners of the companies for which they work, and make a decent living for the family.

Greed?

Whatever.

With unemployment hitting 10% this month here in the USA, maybe we should be focusing a bit more on greed and a bit less on social conscience. Nobody ever fed a starving child with social conscience.

We can only hope that the 80% of those Harvard graduates who didn't sign onto this misguided oath did so out of a sense of purpose and a clearer understanding of their role in turning this country away from the abyss it's hurtling toward.

Making Beggars Of Us All

This, friends, is unsustainable:
Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The 12% rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security.

That's the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003.

The latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household in 2008, according to the USA TODAY analysis. That's quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other debt combined. [link]
It should be noted that both milestones - the 2008 jump in long-term debt and that which took place in 2003 with the ill-conceived expansion of the Medicare prescription drug benefit - took place at a time when a Republican was in the White House.

Is it any wonder that a Republican is no longer in the White House?

Of course, both events will be dwarfed by the actions of our current president. Obama has taken our debt load right off the charts ...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where I Stand On The Sotomayor Nomination

As expressed by Charles Krauthammer:

What should a principled conservative do? Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. No magazine gossip from anonymous court clerks. No "temperament" insinuations. Nothing ad hominem. The argument should be elevated, respectful and entirely about judicial philosophy.

On the Ricci case. And on her statements about the inherent differences between groups, and the superior wisdom she believes her Latina physiology, culture and background grant her over a white male judge. They perfectly reflect the Democrats' enthrallment with identity politics, which assigns free citizens to ethnic and racial groups possessing a hierarchy of wisdom and entitled to a hierarchy of claims upon society.

Obama wanted this racial identity politician on the court. Hang her un-American theories around his neck. And then confirm her.

I Thought Obama Was Going To 'Change' This

It appears that the Europeans are no more enamored of Barack Obama than they were of George Bush. Does that mean that we drive Kid Marvelous into exile now too?
Europe Objects Anew to Detainees
Reluctance Centers On U.S. Refusal to Also Admit Inmates
By Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Foreign Service

Berlin, May 28 -- The Obama administration's push to resettle at least 50 Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Europe is meeting fresh resistance as European officials demand that the United States first give asylum to some inmates before they will do the same.

Rising opposition in the U.S. Congress to allowing Guantanamo prisoners on American soil has not gone over well in Europe. Officials from countries that previously indicated they were willing to accept inmates now say it may be politically impossible for them to do so if the United States does not reciprocate.

"If the U.S. refuses to take these people, why should we?" said Thomas Silberhorn, a member of the German Parliament from Bavaria, where the White House wants to relocate nine Chinese Uighur prisoners. [link]
You know where this is headed. Despite all the cries of anguish, the hand-wringing, and frenzied gesticulating that has come from the liberals in this country in recent years over the plight of those poor savages being held against their will down in Guantanamo, Guantanamo is going to be around for a long, long time. The U.S. sure isn't going to take them. Now the Europeans won't either.

Looks like Bush had it right all along.

Politicians In Caricature

Investor's Business Daily's incomparable cartoonist Michael Ramirez's rendition of our soon-to-be Supreme Court justice:
Ouch.

Can't Be Doing That

Someone over in Memphis is upset that the local Burger King franchise owner put a message on the signs out in front of two of his restaurants that reads "GLOBAL WARMING IS BALONEY." The "reporter" may never eat there again because of it.

I can think of a really good reason to walk away from the Whopper forever, but silly messages?

Whatever floats your boat, man.

'The Ugly American'

Benjamin Netanyahu is so much more mild-mannered than I am. I'd tell Obama where he can stick his demands. But that's why the Israeli prime minister is where he is. Good thing. Because this seems way too heavy-handed for a flamethrower like me to ignore:
Obama presses Israel, Palestinians on West Bank
By Ben Feller, Associated Press Writer

Washington (AP) - Gingerly trying to advance Mideast peace, President Barack Obama on Thursday challenged Israel to stop settlement construction in the West Bank on the same day the Israelis rejected that demand. Obama pushed Palestinians for progress, too, deepening his personal involvement.

In strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had said Wednesday that Obama wants a halt to all settlement construction, including "natural growth." Israel uses that term for new housing and other construction that it says will accommodate the growth of families living in existing settlements.

The president also pushed Palestinians to hold up their end, including increased security in the West Bank to give Israelis confidence in their safety. [link]
That last sentence, and the headline, show how futile - or misguided - Obama's efforts are. Why talk of "security in the West Bank," when Israel's primary security concerns emanate from Gaza (and Iran)? It's because (a) the man sitting with the president yesterday - Mahmoud Abbas - has no control over Gaza, Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization, Hamas, and (b) Obama knows that Hamas isn't going to listen to anything the president says.

So Obama makes meaningless demands of the Palestinians and strongarms the Israelis.

It's a good thing I'm not Israel's leader. I'd be thinking of that expression about "where the sun don't shine ..."

Why Is The Gov't In The Marriage Business?

My feelings exactly, as expressed by Ed Morrissey:
[T]he “state” gave up protecting marriage and children decades ago. The advent of no-fault divorce, in which one party can abrogate the marriage contract without penalty or consideration of the other party, has completely destroyed the notion that the government plays a role in protecting “integrity and well-being of the family.” In fact, I’d argue that serial marriers of the kind seen in Hollywood (or in Washington DC) do more to undermine marriage than single-gender unions would ever do.

The state could get out of the marriage business entirely, and have its citizens enter into partnership contracts instead. That might have the salutary effect of putting mechanisms into place for dissolutions that would keep divorces from dragging on through the courts, but also give the state more ability to enforce the terms of the contract than government is willing to do with marriages that lack pre-nuptial agreements, especially on penalties for abrogation. That would also give the courts an opening to finally get rid of “palimony”, that noxious avenue where the courts have to make determinations whether contractual relations exist between people who neither execute a contract or take wedding vows.

Churches could then recognize marriage along their own precepts. Catholics who want to get married in a Catholic church would still have to be a heterosexual couple above the age of consent, at least one of whom is Catholic, without issues of consanguinuity [he means consanguinity, i.e, related by blood], but would have to also sign a partnership contract for the civil recognition of the relationship. [link]
There. All sides should be happy.

Or not.

My guess is, to the average homosexual, it's not about "marriage" so much as societal recognition and acceptance of their aberrant behavior. Make "marriage" openly available to them and they'll find another reason to howl.

So let 'em howl. It's entertaining.

But I pose the question again: Why is the government meddling in the marriage business?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Walking The Plank

Is it possible that the national debt will exceed 100% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product by the time Obama leaves office?

Very.

In fact, it's quite possible that he'll reach that milestone right after he's reelected.

If he's reelected.

If we still have a Gross Domestic Product.

If we still have a U.S. to call home.

The troubling news:
Exploding debt threatens America
By John Taylor, Financial Times

Under President Barack Obama’s budget plan, the federal debt is exploding. To be precise, it is rising – and will continue to rise – much faster than gross domestic product, a measure of America’s ability to service it. The federal debt was equivalent to 41 per cent of GDP at the end of 2008; the Congressional Budget Office projects it will increase to 82 per cent of GDP in 10 years. With no change in policy, it could hit 100 per cent of GDP in just another five years. [link]
No need to worry though. I've given it a whole lotta thought and I've decided that our debt will never reach 100% of GDP. Global investors will lose confidence in American Treasury securities and the dollar will go into free fall long before that (oh, and your savings will become worthless virtually overnight, sorry).

But be happy. We'll always have Hope & Change.

A Good Laugh

Courtesy of radically liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne:

"Republicans would be foolish to fight the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court because she is the most conservative choice that President Obama could have made."

Conservative. Like E.J. Dionne is conservative.

A side-splitter.

Disintegration

All this because a bishop couldn't keep his abnormal behavior in check:
Episcopal Church Ousts 61 Clergy in Bishop Dispute
Associated Press

Fresno, Calif. (AP) -- National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop in California when he broke with the national church in a dispute over the Bible and homosexuality.

Episcopal leaders said Wednesday they were deposing all clergy who severed their ties and joined Schofield in affiliating with an Anglican archdiocese in Argentina.

Jerry Lamb, the new Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, called the decision to oust the clergy ''heartbreaking.''

''But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church,'' he said. [link]
The church of ... inclusion.

Things That Make You Go ... What?!

You may have already seen this but it just found its way to my email inbox and I thought it to be of value so I'm passing it along:
Recently Michelle Obama went to serve food to the homeless at a government funded soup kitchen.

Cost of a bowl of soup at homeless shelter -- $0.00 dollars

Having Michelle Obama serve your soup -- $0.00 dollars

A homeless person who is receiving a free meal while taking a picture of the First Lady using his $500 Black Berry cell phone $$$$ Priceless
Priceless indeed.

Also, (and I've made this point before) I understand why people feel the need to donate to the poor. In fact, I'm a big contributor to the Salvation Army myself, particularly at Christmas time.

But what I don't understand is why liberals feel the need to dish out food to homeless people who are perfectly capable of picking up a spoon and doing it themselves. They're poor, not quadriplegic.

What in God's name is that all about!?

'See The USA In Your Chevrolet'

The brand that Dinah Shore sang rapturously about in the 50's is about to get a makeover.

Introducing the 2010 Government Motors high-end luxury automobile for the discriminating American consumer who wants to ride in style ...


Guaranteed to meet Obama's 35.5 miles per gallon mandate too (* though you may have to get help pushing it up a steep incline).

In related news:
U.S. Expected to Own 70% of Restructured G.M.
By Micheline Maynard and David E. Sanger, New York Times

Detroit — In better times, many employees of General Motors called their company “Generous Motors” because of its rich benefits.

Now G.M. may stand for something else: Government Motors.

The latest plan for the troubled automaker, which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M.

Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday. By some estimates in Detroit, tens of billions beyond that amount may be required.

The United Automobile Workers, meanwhile, will hold up to 20 percent through its retiree health care fund, and bondholders and other parties will get the remaining share. Shareholders would be virtually wiped out. [link]
"Shareholders would be virtually wiped out." Just as well. There'll be no need for shareholders if the government and the unions own the company. There'll be no need for sales revenue either. And thank God for that. Because what the bureaucrats and the UAW will be turning out (see above) will only make good boat anchors anyway.

Sing it with me:

"See the USA in your Chevrolet.
America is asking you to call.
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America's the greatest land of all ..."

* In case you're wondering, the photo above is actually of a government-built automobile. The East German Trabant. East Germany, in case you hadn't heard, crumbled a number of years ago. As did the car as it came off the assembly line.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Can Live With It

Setting aside the political machinations behind the effort, I think the decision by the Virginia Department of Transportation to cut back services along the interstates in Southwest Virginia is acceptable.

Others disagree:
Troubling cuts — Southwest Virginia comes up short
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The widespread budget cuts recommended last week by Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner David Ekern are particularly troubling for far Southwest Virginia.

It would appear the commissioner has failed to take into consideration the unique geography and challenges of this region in his final decision.

Ekern, who delivered his final recommendations to members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, is calling for a closure of two local rest areas along the Interstate 81 corridor in Wythe and Smyth counties, the elimination of safety service patrols in Southwest Virginia, and even a significantly scaled-back mowing schedule along local interstate corridors. [link]
It's probably not a coincidence that the area of the state that provides the most united - and most vociferous - opposition to tax increases to feed the VDOT maw is the same area that is getting hit hardest by the proposed service cuts.

Call it payback.

Or a tantrum.

But, except - to a minor degree - for the safety patrols being eliminated, a service that provided valuable assistance but is overly costly, I don't have a problem with these cuts. I'll just learn to pee when I stop at McDonald's for my diet coke. And, as much as I'll mourn the loss of jobs for all those Mexicans who mow the interstate medians and off-ramps, I'll learn to deal with tall grass. It's kinda nice, environmentally speaking, anyway.

So here's to VDOT. Make them cuts.

If you think it's going to change our attitudes toward the waste you engender, think again.

In fact, now that we know it's possible, WE DEMAND MORE CUTS.

Stupefaction of the Day

This sentence in a Roanoke Times editorial this morning (about how neat an idea it is that Congress may pass global warming "climate change" legislation even though all evidence points to the fact that the globe climate is not warming changing) is so tortured I feel sorry for it:

"Virginia's 9th District Rep. Rick Boucher gets much of the credit for working out these and other compromises that weaken the bill from an environmental standpoint."

If this environment bill is a good thing, why is Boucher getting credit for weakening it? These guys are big on the environment, right? Why would they praise him for actions they oppose?

I think we all know why. Boucher turned his back on his constituents and sided with the environmental crazies in Washington ( and at the Times) on a piece of legislation that is sure to bring widespread devastation to Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise Counties. Economic destruction the likes of which the area has never experienced before. And this (pathetic) effort is an attempt to paint the traitor in some kind of positive light ("yeah, he supports the legislation that we favor but he weakened it and that's a good thing and he's to be commended, everybody") to try to drum up support for his sorry ass. Call it providing cover for their favorite little toady.

The bottom line - and never forget it: No politician in the history of Southwest Virginia has done more harm to our way of life - at least since the days of John B. Floyd - than this guy has in recent days:
May his name be forever logged in the annals of infamy.

Now This Might Be Interesting

I watch ABC on TV so rarely I couldn't tell you what channel it's on. If it's not Fox News, it's a movie, with a brief stop now and then at the Weather Channel.

But this may alter my viewing habits:
Making a Mockery of Being Green
By Jamin Brophy-Warren, New York Times

Director Mike Judge’s new animated television series “The Goode Family” is a send-up of a clan of environmentalists who live by the words “What would Al Gore do?” Gerald and Helen Goode want nothing more than to minimize their carbon footprint. They feed their dog, Che, only veggies (much to the pet’s dismay) and Mr. Goode dutifully separates sheets of toilet paper when his wife accidentally buys two-ply. And, of course, the family drives a hybrid.

On Wednesday at 9 p.m., “The Goode Family” will have its premiere on ABC and become the first animated series on the network’s prime-time lineup since 1995 when “The Critic” starring Jon Lovitz ended its second season. [link]
Since I mock environmentalists all the time, this should be right up my alley. Now, if it's creative ...

9 pm tonight. Be there. Or be sq ... a tree hugger.

In The Blink of an Eye

Say what you will about Mike Tyson. No parent should ever have to endure this:
Iron Mike Grieves As Girl Dies
By Lorena Mongelli and Nick Martin, New York Post

Phoenix -- Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter, who had been on life support since getting her neck tangled in an electrical cord Monday, has died.

The shattered former boxing champ and the child's devastated mother, Sol Xochitl, spent yesterday huddled in grief in Phoenix, where the mom lived with the child, Exodus, and a 7-year-old son.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus," Tyson said in a statement. "We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal." [link]
A tragic, senseless accident. A child is lost forever.

Think only kind thoughts of Mike Tyson this day.

It Takes a Smarter Man Than Me ...

... to figure this one out:
Court upholds Prop. 8 but lets marriages stand
By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

San Francisco -- California voters legally outlawed same-sex marriage when they approved Proposition 8 in November, but the constitutional amendment did not dissolve the unions of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before the measure took effect, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

The 6-1 decision upholding Prop. 8 was issued by the same court that declared a year ago that a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman violated the right to choose one's spouse and discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. [link]
It's discriminatory but acceptable in the eyes of the (state) law. Uh, okay.

Some gay marriages will stand. But gay marriage is banned. What?

Why do I feel like Solomon's commandment that the child be sliced in two with a sword was carried out by the California Supreme Court?

I will probably rejoice, as soon as I'm certain that this is rejoicable.

If That's What You Want

As you are all aware, I've made it clear that I am prepared to accept any nominee that Obama chooses for the Supreme Court. He won, and all that. But this gal, who looks like she's good for a cheap thrill, is pushing it. Who is she?

Obama's nominee for the high court. One Sonia Sotomayor.

Here's what prompted his decision, and in this order:

Liberal √

Female √√

Puerto Rican √√√

Feminist √

Obligatory "Compelling Life Story" √

Racist oops.

Strong résumé √

At least she'll be fun to blog in coming years.

Here's the deal, folks. Obama wants her. You wanted Obama. She's what you get in the package deal. So learn to live with it.

I will.

I keep telling myself: At least Bush 41's worst mistake is on his way out.

Photo courtesy of Drudge.

That Was Then. This Is Now.

Alberto Gonzales is Hispanic. And he was crucified in the liberal press until he finally resigned from office.

Miguel Estrada, an accomplished Hispanic, was savagely hounded out of his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals by liberal Democrats.

Hispanic hipsanish.

So, when I read bullshit like this in the liberal New York Times, the Wheaties in my stomach begin to churn:
In restaurants, homes and offices across the country, Hispanics responded to Judge Sotomayor’s selection with a puff of pride, some gratitude and considerable discussion. In interviews in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, many said this kind of recognition from Washington — Democratic or Republican — was long overdue given the growing size of the Hispanic voting bloc. [my emphasis]
I think I'll puke.

Non-Quote of the Day

I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a black man who hasn’t lived that life."

-- (paraphrasing) Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Separated At Birth?

Just wonderin' ...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Revealing

I've worked this theory for years that liberals pick and choose the taxes they support - with gusto - based upon the lifestyle they live. Specifically, they encourage taxing the hell out of activities that they don't participate in.

Do liberals smoke?

Tax 'em.

Do liberals drink beer?

Tax it.

Guns?

Yeah, baby.

Wine?

Uhhhhh ...

Ugly little electric cars?

What?

Birkenstocks?

OK. You can stop now.

I'm reminded of my theory by an editorial in this morning's New York Times, a liberal bastion if there ever was one. It doesn't involve taxation, but it relates. It''s about writers (get it? writers? New York Times?) being subjected to civil penalties because of the words they've written having been found to be false and malicious and written for the purpose of defaming someone.

In other words, it's about libel judgments.

Well, by God, we can't allow that!!!
Libel Tourism

American law, with its strong First Amendment traditions, makes it hard to sue authors for libel. To get around these protections, book subjects have been suing American authors in England, where the libel law is much less writer-friendly. Two states — New York and Illinois — have already adopted laws prohibiting “libel tourism,” and several more, including Florida and California, may soon join them.

That is a good start, but it still leaves writers with only a patchwork of protection. Congress needs to pass a law that makes clear that no American court will enforce libel judgments from countries that provide less protection for the written word. [link]
Yeah, Congress needs to drop what it's doing and defend the New York Times and its contributors.

This is the same New York Times that gleefully runs spurious stories (supplied by trial lawyers for the plaintiffs) about lawsuits being brought overseas against American oil companies, monetary judgments from which class action plaintiff's lawyers will expect America's courts to enforce.

Odd. They haven't run an editorial denouncing that practice yet .

Remember: Liberals aren't in the oil business. Or the pharmaceuticals business. Or the tobacco business. So tax the crap out of them. Sue the crap out of them. Foreign courts? Fine.

But writers?

They can't do that!!!!!

Theory tested. Theory confirmed.

Here, Let Me Help You

The theory goes something like this: Urban areas interested in economic growth can lure young, upwardly mobile, college educated, career-minded entrepreneurs and tech-savvy professionals to their environs by offering that "quality of life" that they cannot find elsewhere. That quality having to do with "open spaces" and an opportunity to recreate. To commune with nature. To afford amenities that they can't get in the burbs.

It's called the "Greenways Initiative." The pathway to riches and rewards the likes of which humankind can't even imagine.

Why they target young professionals with mountains of debt is beyond me. My guess is, it has to do with the fact that it's usually a young professional writing the proposal. Me? I'd be seeking out all those retired folks who have wads of disposable income to spend, but what do I know?

Anyway, the city of Roanoke, a while back, launched its own version of the Greenways Initiative and now curious people want to know: Is it worth the effort?
Surveying the greenway
Roanoke Times editorial

Depending on the time of day and the weather, parts of the pathway -- heavily favored by cyclists, runners, moms pushing carriages, dogs walking their owners -- can become rather congested.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out plenty of Roanokers of all sizes, shapes and ages use the river greenway. And that's a good thing because the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have invested much money in building and extending it.

Now the Corps wants to know if it's getting a return on the investment. To help figure that out, the city is conducting a survey ... [link]
A survey.

Like the editorialist, I'm a bit skeptical of the analytical value of asking residents what they think of a hiking path. But the boys at the Corps have to earn their keep too. So we get a survey. Whatever.

Might I make a suggestion, though?

Why not use empirical data?

Or, let me make it easy on you, why not use studies and analyses based on empirical data that other professionals have used?

To that end, the Milken Institute takes certain criteria and ranks America's top 200 cities and their economic prospects. Those criteria include such measurable things as short-term and longer-term job growth, short-term and longer-term wage and salary growth, GDP growth, and "high-tech" GDP.

So where does Roanoke rank out of 200 in 2008?

168.

And, with the Greenways Initiative now in high gear, how does that compare to a year ago?

In 2007, it was 138th.

Roanoke fell 30 notches.

I suppose the Corps of Engineers could do some research to find out if the 167 cities that rank higher than Roanoke have nicer greenways than does the Star City.

Or it might simply ask residents what they think of that nice, clean pathway that so many people like to use, as opposed to the sidewalk in front of their homes or the park down the street. The answer will be so much more uplifting, if no more enlightening.

Or they might study the whole notion that a greenway is, in any way, related to economic prosperity in the first place.

Or someone - besides the Corps of Engineers - might ask pertinent questions. Like: Why is Roanoke fairing so poorly in the race to economic success?

Greenways? Shoot, just having those buxom young upwardly mobile, college educated, career-minded women running in their sports bras makes it worth every penny.

So rank that ...

For Those Who Like Progressive Tax Rates ...

... and want Virginia to be more like the Northeast (where are Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran from again?), you might consider this. Those rich people whom you love to hate sometimes react in ways you don't want them to.

To wit:
Millionaires Go Missing
Wall Street Journal editorial

Here's a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics:

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

No doubt the majority of that loss in millionaire filings results from the recession. However, this is one reason that depending on the rich to finance government is so ill-advised: Progressive tax rates create mountains of cash during good times that vanish during recessions.

The Maryland state revenue office says it's "way too early" to tell how many millionaires moved out of the state when the tax rates rose. But no one disputes that some rich filers did leave. [link]
Of course we know that Virginia is different. Rich residents would never leave here because ... well, it's Virginia.

But keep working at making it a blue state - like Maryland - and watch what happens. Florida, which has no income tax, is but a few hours away.

And the Caymans beckon ...

He Can Do What Bill Clinton Did

Nothing.

Tested Early by North Korea, Obama Has Few Options

At least few options he's willing to exercise.

Clinton decided that playing hide-the-cigar was a whole lot more fun than dealing with the growing threat of terrorism.

Obama?

Golf.

It's okay, though. The world knows there isn't any possibility, with Bush having gone into retirement, that the U.S. will involve itself in a conflict with any rogue nation.

No possibility whatsoever.

Asked the probing and hard-hitting New York Times reporter: "How's that chip shot, Mr. President?"

- - -

On a related note, what in God's name is this?

The Meaning of Michelle Obama

Good grief.

Parody? No. These "journalists" are absolutely serious.

Quick! Before They Learn The Truth!

As the data pour in showing the planet to be in a cooling trend ...

Gore calls on world business leaders to push for climate deal

My favorite line:

"We have to do it this year, not next year. Mother Nature does not do bailouts."

Because next year the planet will be even cooler. And that fact alone is eventually going to implode this house of cards.

Quote of the Day

From Glenn Reynolds:

"'Is Obama Another Jimmy Carter?' Actually, I’m beginning to think that’s a best-case situation. . . . "

Really. We may actually look on the Carter years with fondness after this is all over.

The Clock Is Ticking

While the world dithers ...

Defying world powers, N. Korea conducts nuke test

Iran's Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal

It's just a matter of time.

Our response?

North Korean Nuclear Blast Draws Global Condemnation

For the 1,276th time.

- - -

I wonder if the editorialists at the Washington Post realize how ridiculous this reads:

"North Korea's detonation of a nuclear warhead in an underground test yesterday is, of course, cause for serious concern -- particularly as the blast appears to have been considerably larger than the regime's first test nearly three years ago. It is certainly cause for swift action by the U.N. Security Council, which issued a statement condemning Pyongyang's blatant violations of previous council resolutions, and promised to prepare yet another resolution ..."

Our strategy is to resolution them into submission.

For the love of God.

If Only Because He's a Dolt

G.O.P. Eyes Tough Task: Winning Reid’s Seat

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Memoriam


THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

There's a graveyard near the White House,
where the Unknown Soldier lies.
The flowers there are sprinkled,
with the tears from a Mothers eyes.

I stood there not so long ago,
with roses for the brave,
and suddenly I heard a voice
speak out from far beyond the grave.
"I'm the Unknown Soldier,"
the spirit voice began,
"And I think I have the right,
to ask some questions man to man.

Are my buddies taken care of?
Was their victory so sweet?
Is that big reward you offered,
selling pencils on the street?

"Did they really win the freedom
they battled so hard to achieve?
Do you still respect that Croix de Guerre
above that empty sleeve?
Does that gold star in the window
now mean anything at all?

I wonder how my wife now feels,
when she hears a bugle call?
And my baby who says
"Hello Central, give me no man"
can they replace her Daddy,
with a military band?

"I wonder if the profiteers
have satisfied their greed?
I wonder if a Soldiers Mother,
ever is in need?
I wonder if the kings who planned it all,
are really satisified?
They played their game of checkers,
and eleven million died.

I'm the Unknown Soldier,
and maybe I died in vain.
But if I were alive and my Country called,
I'd do it all over again."

-- Deborah Walker Kellie

It's a Cruel World

I've known Mike Huff for several years (mostly through our business relationship). I know of no one who loves his work more than he does. Nor anyone who cares more for his employees. Or his customers. And as for carrying on his father's legacy, Mike has - I have no doubt - made his daddy proud.

But Mike and his brother, having assumed ownership of the family business in Wytheville after the death of their father, Bob, are saddled with the misfortune of being tied at the hip to America's once-great corporate giant ...

... General Motors.

And so he gets the notice that no business owner ever wants to receive - a big chunk of his business is going out of business. By General Motors decree:
Dealership gets closure letter from GM
Jeffrey Simmons, Wytheville Enterprise

A dark cloud popped up over Wytheville’s General Motors dealership on May 15, but owner Mike Huff stressed Friday that the corporate closure flood threatening to sweep his business away hasn’t materialized yet.

Huff, like more than 1,000 other GM dealers around the country last week, received word by mail that his lot was slated to be shut down by October 2010 as part of a companywide [sic] restructuring.

“Shocked would be an understatement,” Huff said regarding his reaction to the news.

But the owner of Bob Huff Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Cadillac – a Wytheville mainstay since 1973 – said he’s not ready to accept that his dealership’s days may be numbered.

Huff said he broke the news of the closure letter to his employees on Monday. [link]
Such the shame. If for no other reason than the loss of the service department crew that Mike has assembled. They are (were) a great bunch of expert technicians. They'll be missed, believe me.

All is not lost for Mike though. Right next door to his doomed Chevy dealership is ...

... Huff Ford.

I will definitely be switching my allegiance going forward.

Global Warming Dogma Becomes Farce

Don Surber:
Scientists: Global warming will cool the Earth

Of course, it is from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, so who knows what they have been smoking.

Let’s see. They have been predicting for years that global temperatures would suddenly shoot up like a hockey stick.

They cited some sort of mythical “computer model.”

We waited.

Nothing happens.

It even seems to get a little chillier.

What do they do next?

This, as reported by Science Daily: “Results from satellite and ground-based sensor data show that sweltering summers can, paradoxically, lead to the temporary formation of a cooling haze in the southeastern United States.”

This cockamamie story continued: “The study, to be published the week of May 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that when man-made pollutants mix with the natural compounds emitted from forests and vegetation during the hot summer months, they form secondary aerosols that reflect light from the sun. Such aerosols may also contribute to the formation of clouds, which also reflect sunlight.”

In summary: We are having global cooling and global warming simultaneously. [link]
And Obama (with Congressman Rick Boucher's enthusiastic support) is going to tax and regulate us back into the Stone Age because of it.

"Global cooling and global warming simultaneously." And millions if Americans don't see the madness in it.

Now, This Should Break Your Heart

A bunch of lice-infested college kiddies on summer break are sitting behind bars and their parents won't bail them out.

Boo. Freaking. Hoo.
Group says coal protesters unable to make bail
By the Associated Press

Beaver, W.Va. (AP) -- Environmental group Mountain Justice says six people arrested on trespassing charges during a coal mining protest are still jailed.

The group said Sunday the six have been unable to raise $2,000 cash apiece to make bail.

All six were arrested a day earlier at Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co.'s Marfork Coal mining complex in Pettus. Mountain Justice says they were protesting Richmond, Va.-based Massey's plan to blast at the mine. [link]
Actions have consequences, children. You want to save the planet by denying the only jobs those miners have available to them? You'll be doing it from a jail cell, sweetheart. Hopefully, for a long, long time.

Heck, if we're lucky, it'll keep you from going back to that badminton major you're pursuing over at Virginia Tech.

Now that's Mountain Justice.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I'm getting more than a bit annoyed at Colin Powell's efforts to convince the country that he's a Republican. Isn't this the same Colin Powell who endorsed the candidacy of the liberal Democrat over the “moderate” Republican in the last election?

With Republicans like him ...
Colin Powell Fires Back At Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney
By Jonathan Martin, USA Today

In the latest round of the increasingly heated intra-GOP feud, former Secretary of State Colin Powell Sunday defended his Republican credentials and fired back at radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney, saying the party had to expand beyond its conservative base.

Powell outlined his party bona fides, noting his votes for and services under a string of Republican presidents, and said it was not up to Cheney and Limbaugh – the radio host has kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism since Powell's cross-party endorsement last year – to determine who belonged in the GOP. [link]
Odd that he would bring up his votes. Who was his last vote for? And what party did he represent?

Look, Limbaugh and Cheney are right. The Republican Party doesn't need to be rebuilt in the image of the looney lefty party. We have one too many of those already. And, as mentioned, his way of thinking was tried in 2008.

By the way, how is President McCain (the most liberal candidate in a strong field of Republican primary candidates last year) doing, Colin?

Words Well Writ

C.K. Macleod on Colin Powell's refusal to do the right thing and become a Democrat:

Across the United States this morning, life came to a standstill, and all the hungry sheeple looked up, waiting to be fed.

Finally, time zone by time zone, the virtual red smoke belched forth from the Face the Nation chimney, and the cry rose up: Habemus Republicanum! We have a Republican! Gen Colin Powell has not left the party! Strong men fainted and brave women wept at the news, but, as the smelling salts took effect and eyes cleared, no one could figure out what it meant.

Read the whole thing. It's that good.

From my perspective, if Powell has his way, the GOP will lose again in 2012. And 2016. As John McCain proved, if you try to compete with the Democrat contender in the arena of overpromise on issues relating to all the neat things government can do for the people, you'll lose big time. The Democrats own that domain.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Movie Review

I wanted to take a moment to mention a movie that Paula and I watched on DVD last night. "Slumdog Millionaire." I enjoyed it immensely. Whether it was good enough to earn the Oscar, I'll leave to others, but it's a good three stars on my four-star-o-meter easily.

I bring it up for a specific reason. I feel the need to point out one aspect of the flick that no one else - to my knowledge - has touched on.

It relates to Capitalism.

Or at least capital.

Yes, it's a love story. And a great one.

But there is a subtext that I found truly fascinating.

The story is about a young boy who was born into abject poverty in the slums of Bombay, India, in a seething hellhole of wanton nothingness and filth the likes of which no one in this country has ever seen or experienced. Over time, he and his brother, through a bit of good luck and a larger bit of "street-smarts," are able to make their way out of that teeming cesspool of inhumanity by scamming tourists at the Taj Mahal, pickpocketing, thievery, and assorted other less-than honorable "occupations." Eventually the protagonist makes his way onto the TV show, "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," and the plot comes together from there (I'll not reveal it beyond what I've written).

But there is something that I found intriguing. The young man is able to make his way out of poverty and into a comfortable life, in part, because Bombay itself was rapidly bursting out of impoverishment. It's telling that the largest city in India even changed its name (to Mumbai*) over time, signifying its transformation. We watch as wretched villages of mud and corrugated metal turn into gleeming high-rise apartments and office buildings, a city that metamorphosed from being an open sewer to a bustling global commercial hub (traffic jams and all).

I couldn't help but think about all the problems America's cities are experiencing right now. About how some of them are turning into cesspools themselves. I think particularly of Detroit. And about how America's city leaders are all increasingly turning to the federal government for help.

Why is it happening?

Mostly because millions of jobs and hundreds of billions in wealth have, in recent decades, fled overseas. To places like Mumbai. And, whether you like it or not, it's easier and more remunerative to do business there than here.

Such the contrast. While America moves inexorably toward socializing every aspect of our lives (and wondering why it isn't working as we do it), and with its industrial base (along with its financial base?) crumbling, a large segment of the population of Mumbai is, for the first time in its centuries-long existence, enjoying prosperity. Because capital has found a home there.

Say what you will about cheap labor and poor working conditions. Capital is fleeing the U.S. and is thriving in places like Mumbai. And its not an accident. In either case.

So. I recommend that you get a copy of "Slumdog Millionaire" and watch it. Pay close attention to the love story. It's inspiring.

But watch those shantytowns get bulldozed and gated communities spring up too. To me, that's even more inspiring.

Perhaps someday, here in the good old USA ...

- - -

* You might wonder why the name change. The word "Bombay" was considered by many Indians to be a British term (mongrelized from a Poruguese term). And all Indians still hate the British. So, in an effort to assert and promote its complete independence from the days of the British Raj, the name was changed to Mumbai.

They Need a Slap Upside The Head

In August of 1866 in Stafford, England a murderer, one William Collier, previously sentenced to death for murdering another man, was dutifully hanged. And, because the rope broke and he crashed to the ground in the first attempt, he was dragged atop the scaffold and hanged again. The second effort proved successful. His neck snapped and Collier died a quick - well, sorta - death.

One wonders what thoughts went through the man's mind in that brief period between execution, reprieve, and execution.

Whatever they were, my guess is, his meditations didn't include questioning the intent of the executioner. That, it would seem to a rational person, was pretty clear.

So what's up with the heads of America's coal companies? There's the noose, the scaffold, the expressed intent, the walk up the scaffold steps, the drop, the shock. The question: "What's Obama doing to us?"

What?
Obama's mining approach leaves industry wondering
By Tim Huber, AP Business Writer

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- No one's particularly pleased with the Obama administration's early approach to regulating the U.S. coal industry.

The industry and big coal producing states are worried about stricter reviews of Appalachian surface mining permits by the Environmental Protection Agency that have contributed to a lengthy backlog and efforts to eliminate a pro-mining rule adopted by the Bush administration. That's atop broader concerns about efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and talk of regulating carbon dioxide - the chief greenhouse gas - as air pollution.

If anything, the industry is more leery of the new administration than ever, National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich said.

"We are encouraged by what we see is continuing support for clean coal technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage, which underscores the importance of coal for the nation and the importance of technology to address global warming," he said. "However, we remain very concerned about the actions of regulatory agencies."

Chiefly, big coal is bothered by the EPA. [link]
No shit.

Big coal is "bothered" that the Obama administration, having vowed to destroy it on the scaffold of "environmental protection," appears to be trying to destroy the coal industry through the implementation of onerous EPA regulations. Leaving the industry ... "wondering."

Bothered? As in "Darn, that fall from the gallows hurt. Can we be a little more empathetic the second time around?"

Wondering? As in "I wonder if the executioner will change his mind in the next few seconds"?

Me? I'd be getting up off the ground, dusting myself off, and running like hell. Or fighting to save my life.

But no.

"I am perplexed as to what the administration's intentions are."

Said the coal executive as Obama slipped the noose around his neck the second time.

Boucher To Be Point Man on Job Killing Bill

You folks in the coal counties will need to decide if Rick Boucher should ever set foot in Scott, Tazewell, Dickenson, Lee, Wise, or Russell Counties ever again. His cheerleading for a bill that has the intended purpose of shutting down the coal industry is that shameful.

He's not just supporting it. He's out in the forefront arguing on its behalf.

The awful truth, found in "Democrats may make trouble for climate bill":
Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher, a key negotiator for moderate Democrats on the Energy and Commerce panel, acknowledged that he and other members of the committee have a lot of work to do in educating their colleagues outside the committee about the bill they’ve produced.

“Once it’s reported from the committee, we have a broader consultation to conduct with members of the House who have not been directly involved in the process and shaping the bill to this point,” Boucher said. “It will take at least a month.”
"We have a broader consultation to ..."

That "we" is rather telling. Boucher now considers himself to be in league with the likes of Henry Waxman, Ed Markey, and their ilk. Sworn enemies of the coal industry if there ever was one.

So he's made his bed. Now Boucher will have to lie in it. It's up to you to decide what to do with him from here on out.

Will Boucher's Climate Bill Die Of Its Own Weight?

Here's an interesting perspective from the business columnist at the Washington Post:
Climate-Change Bill Hits Some of the Right Notes but Botches the Refrain
By Steven Pearlstein

[T]here are probably not more than a few hundred people who really understand what's in this legislation, how it would work and what its impact is likely to be. As it moves through the legislative process, it's worthy of closer attention.

The other thing to say about it is that it is a badly flawed piece of public policy. It is so broad in its reach and complex in its details that it would be difficult to implement even in Sweden, let alone in a diverse and contentious country like the United States. It would create dozens of new government agencies with broad powers to set standards, dole out rebates and tax subsidies, and pick winning and losing technologies, even as it relies on newly created markets with newly created regulators to set prices and allocate resources. Its elaborate allocation of pollution allowances and offsets reads like a parody of industrial policy authored by the editorial page writers of the Wall Street Journal. The opportunities for waste, fraud and regulatory screwup look enormous. [link]
Here's the weird thing. This guy favors a carbon tax that would have the intended effect of stifling growth. Not mentioned is why, of course (hint: the planet's temperature that was supposed to be rising but isn't, darn it). (Can't be mentioning the why any more, now that the planet is, ahem, cooling).

But his point is well taken. Boucher's bill is an awful miscarriage. One that needs to go away. Now.

Food For Thought

The Wall Street Journal on Obama's ever-changing idea of what cap-and-trade ought to be:
Pollution Politics and the Climate-Bill Giveaway
By David Wessel

President Barack Obama was emphatic during his campaign and after his election: The best way to fight climate change is to cap carbon emissions and auction off tradable permits to emit carbon.

"If you're giving away carbon permits for free, then basically you're not really pricing the thing and it doesn't work -- or people can game the system in so many ways that it's not creating the incentive structures that we're looking for," he told the Business Roundtable in March.

This past week, Rep. Henry Waxman's House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a climate-change bill that gives away 85% of the emission permits until 2026. President Obama applauded, calling the bill "a historic leap."

Huh? [link]
So Obama changed his tune in a matter of days. Pardon me while I feign shock.

Does This Even Make Sense?

In response to a question from C-SPAN interviewer Steve Scully, who asked, "You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?"
Well, we are out of money now. [True!] We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far [True, but how did health care pop in here?]. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen [Yes] and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades [Say what?] .

So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance [Unemployment insurance?] or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off [How much of today's "short-term problem" involves food stamps?].

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem [True!]. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare [That's it? Our $11 trillion long-term problem is Medicare and Medicaid? Isn't something being left out?]. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit [Government's involvement in the health care delivery system - Medicare and Medicaid - are spinning out of control, that's obvious, and yet Obama wants to place the rest of the health care industry under government control too, spinning them out of control as well; is this a sane person?].

So, one option is just to do nothing [Another would be to get out of the Medicare and Medicaid business, but this guy hasn't the intellectual capacity to grasp the parameters]. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. ["Well, we are out of money now."] We've got this big deficit. [And a massive national debt] Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything... [Obama's plan is to grow it even more rapidly, into areas beyond Medicare and Medicaid] [link]
This is, coming from the leader of the free world, frighteningly illogical, meandering, disjointed, and warped.

"Well, we are out of money now" would have answered the question in full. The rest is a pitiful attempt at twisting the answer to fit some agenda. But it makes no sense.

I don't get the feeling this guy is on top of things. He's trying. But it just ain't there.

Quote of the Day

From Mark Steyn:
I love American cars. I have a Chevy truck, Chevy SUV, the whole Steyn fleet. But I will never buy another Chevy until it is restored to private ownership. When GM sneezes, America catches a cold. When GM is put on government life-support, it's America — and the American idea — that's dying.
"What's So Wrong with Obama Motors?" National Review's "The Corner," May 23, 2009

Quote of the Day II

James Taranto:
In his speech yesterday, Obama declared that "the American people are not absolutist, and they don't elect us to impose a rigid ideology." Importing hard-core Islamic supremacists into U.S. prisons is an insane policy. If Obama's proposing it is not an example of an official being driven by rigid ideology, then the phrase has no meaning.
"Prison Cell To Terror Cell," Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Meet The Next Governor

Anne B. Crockett-Stark wanted me to post an invitation to her constituents in the area:
Dear Friends,

If you are free today and looking for something fun to do, come to the Bland County Fairgrounds May 23 at 3:00 p.m. and visit with me and Bob McDonnell, Candidate for Governor.
I'm going to try to make it but I'll be cutting it close. Today's a work day.

Could be fun indeed. I've not met either of these two and it's time I did. I'll let you know how it goes.