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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Say What?

They haven't released their editorial yet, so it would be presumptuous to attack it. But, hey, when has that stopped me?

From this morning's Roanoke Times editorial team:
Regulate coal ash

And we thought we had problems with fly ash here in Virginia. Tennessee knows what a real problem with fly ash is.

Actually, as a story in The New York Times makes clear, the entire nation has a problem with fly ash. Around 1,300 of unregulated fly ash dumps litter the nation. There are countless more areas where fly ash has been put to, ahem, "beneficial use" - also without regulation and usually without monitoring of nearby groundwater.

Fly ash, the dust left over after coal's burned to generate electricity, contains heavy metals and other toxins, yet the EPA has refused to regulate it as hazardous waste. In an editorial for later in the week, we'll argue for a long over-due change to that policy. [link]

Let me give these deep thinkers a word of caution. If they're going to use the incident that occurred near Knoxville when a dam burst and sent tons of coal ash downhill into nearby valleys and farm fields, they'd do well to remember who it is that oversaw that pile of ash in the first place.

The Times is going to call for more government oversight ("regulation") of these ash mounds around the country? Who do they think oversees that pile in Knoxville?

The government. Or, at minimum, quasi-government.

A question: You boys at the Times are actually going to call for more government control of that which the government has proven to be unable to control on its own?

Wouldn't it be more logical, based on recent events, to have private industry oversee the government before another government-sponsored disaster occurs?

Are We Paying These Guys For Their Insight?

Virginia Employment Commission: Recession likely to hit in first quarter

The Best America Had To Offer

This trailer to a new HBO movie, "Taking Chance," (release date February 21), will bring tears to your eyes. It's a true story about a Marine killed in combat being brought home for burial.

We owe him - and all those like him - so much.

* We also owe Blackfive a debt of gratitude for making the movie happen and bringing the story to us.

You're Dreaming

The kids in the Washington Post editorial boardroom, who, it should be remembered, got sucked into all that "hope and change" idiocy and endorsed the man's candidacy for president, now endorse Barack Obama's limitless "stimulus" effort but caution that it might encourage waste and abuse.


From "Dr. Obama's Cure":
The angling for pet projects has already begun in Congress, as the mere mention of so much new spending has brought out lobbyists by the score. To cite just one example -- and not a particularly egregious one -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) has called a hearing on using stimulus money to help local law enforcement. Worthy as this might be, it has only a remote connection to jump-starting the economy. Fiscal stimulus must be, as the economists' mantra goes, targeted, timely and temporary. Working with and, if need be, on the Congress, Mr. Obama must stick to those conditions. [link]
If Obama were king (and didn't himself have a track record of wasteful pork appropriations from his brief stint in the Senate), we might rest assured that he'll be able to prevent waste - just as our famously wasteful Congress is handing itself, at Obama's insistence, a trillion dollars to spend on roads, bridges, and other infrastructure on whatever the Members please.

There is no way - listen to me - no way that Obama is going to prevent rampant waste. Congress will wallow in it. And then it'll be handed to the states and they'll indulge themselves in it. Then the big cities. Then the unions ...

We'll soon look on the days of Jack Abramoff as The Salad Days of 21st century American fiscal discipline.

"Mr. Obama must stick to those conditions." Even he must be chuckling at that one.

Listen Up, Mr. President

On the trend to have the government intrude in every aspect of our daily lives (and run up a frightening debt doing it), a quote from George Will:
Philander Chase Knox was President Theodore Roosevelt's attorney general when the United States acquired the Panama Canal Zone by unsavory means. When T.R. asked Knox for a defense of the acquisition, Knox is said to have replied, "Oh, Mr. President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality."
We now own a piece of GMAC. And, soon, we'll own pieces of dozens, hundreds, thousands of other failing companies. Did we vote on that?

I guess we did. I ... guess ... we ... did.

Visions Of Bill Clinton

How many of you remember the early days of the Clinton administration, when our then-boy president told a fawning nation that he intended to curb wasteful federal spending and a troubling national debt by eliminating ... the honey bee subsidy?

To say we were all less than whelmed by his commitment to fiscal discipline would be an understatement (thank God for Newt Gingrich and a Republican majority that came in a year later to make a balanced budget a reality).

Now Barack Obama vows to curb wasteful federal spending and the national debt. And he's even hired a new government employee (599,999 to go!) to do it But without a honey bee subsidy to axe, what are he and she actually going to cut - besides the military?

From "Just as Obama begins, huge deficit could hamper plans":

"We are committed to changing the way our government in Washington does business so that we're no longer squandering billions of tax dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or an interest group," Obama said at his Washington transition office.

"Even in good times, Washington can't afford to continue these bad practices. In bad times, it's absolutely imperative that Washington stop them and restore confidence that our government is on the side of taxpayers and everyday Americans," he said.

Yet while Obama stressed that he'll inherit the $1.2 trillion deficit — and on Tuesday called the Bush administration irresponsible for adding to the national debt — he didn't identify any Bush-era policy that he'd reverse to reduce the deficits and mounting debt. [my emphasis]

Not even a honey bee subsidy.

This is the definition of the term "empty gesture."

Not a good beginning.

Guns In The Wrong Hands ...

Plaxico Burress on gun safety:

Darwin had a point. New York Giants wide receivers sometimes illustrate it.

Out Of Both Sides Of His Mouth

How can the soon-to-be president of this country see danger approaching with the exploding federal deficit and national debt, and then argue - with a straight face - that he intends to make it worse than anyone can imagine? Which is it, big guy?

I expect the mainstream media to let him get away with this but is there any Republican opposition in Washington these days?

This is beyond contemptible:

From "Obama taps spending watchdog, eyes Social Security":
Pointing with concern to "red ink as far as the eye can see," President-elect Barack Obama pledged Wednesday to tackle out-of-control Social Security and Medicare spending and named a special watchdog to clamp down on other federal programs — even as he campaigned anew to spend the largest pile of taxpayer money in history to revive the sinking economy.

The steepness of the fiscal mountain he'll face beginning Jan. 20 was underscored by stunning new figures: an estimate that the federal budget deficit will reach $1.2 trillion this year, by far the biggest ever, even without the new stimulus spending.

Last year's U.S. deficit set its own record, but that $455 billion will be dwarfed by this year's. The new estimate, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, represents more than 8 percent of the entire national economy.

Still, Obama said "an economic situation that is dire" requires immediate and bold action with unprecedented tax cuts and federal programs. [link]
Translated: The national debt is of grave concern. But never mind the concern. I'm going to make it far worse.


Newspapers In a Nosedive

I'm not sure why I'm startled by this statistic, since I switched to getting my news from the internet each morning - as opposed to reading the morning newspaper - at least a decade ago, but I'm still surprised by this:
Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Outlet
The Pew Research Center

The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news.

Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%. [link]
A graph to illustrate the trend:

Even more fascinating:
For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).
Changing times ...

Graph courtesy of The Pew Research Center For The People & The Press