Friday, July 31, 2009

Negative Economic Growth is the Right Direction?

Everyone in the media seems thrilled at today's news that the American economy was only one percent negative in the Second Quarter (April, May & June).

ABC News quotes Obama as declaring that "the economy is heading in the right direction."

If negative growth is the right direction, then he is a bigger enemy of capitalism than I had feared.

Can we put those visions of sugar plum fairies aside for a moment?

Sure, there is no one who would rather we wallow in recession, or worse, longer than necessary. But we have to be realistic. The old saw that "saying so doesn't make it so" applies here.

The president and his cronies want you to think that we've turned the corner. He desperately needs some good news to turn his poll numbers which I suspect are the only numbers he really cares about anyway.

First of all, we have to trust the government to give us good data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That's difficult to do in the short run. In fact, considering that the government has revised older economic data to make the recession look worse while Bush was president, I suspect that the statistics are being massaged for political effect.

What cannot be massaged is the impact on people's lives. There are millions more out of work today than on January 20, and even Obama admits that more people will lose their jobs before large scale hirings begin.

As far as the stock market goes, the Dow is on the upside in large measure because on June 8 Citigroup and Government Motors (GM) were kicked off and replaced with Travelers and Cisco Systems. That's a handy trick I'm going to remember the next time I'm having a bad golf outing. I'll just replace some of the bad hole numbers with better ones.

Yes, we are in a rally but it seems to be one of "hope" rather than substance. With all the new deficit spending, can our economy rebound? And if we nationalize health care, will it ever rebound?

I talked to a guy the other day whose new stockbroker was telling him how wonderful things will be in just a couple of years when the Dow hits 15,000. Say what? "I don't give advice," I told him. "But if it were my money, I dunno. Not all eggs in the same basket, I guess. And lots of prayer."

I think I can get away with saying that without being accused of giving market advice.

This was before I learned that President Obama's leftist Science Czar, John Holdren, is a big believer, not only in Zero Population Growth, but in Zero Economic Growth. That ought to spice up the administrative meetings at the White House.
Holdren, who is now President Obama’s top adviser on science and technology policy, wrote in the 1970s that it would be “entirely logical” to cap the Gross National Product--the total productivity of the American economy.

“It is by now abundantly clear that the GNP cannot grow forever. Why should it?” Holdren asked in a 1977 college science textbook he co-wrote with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, titled “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.”

“Why should we not strive for zero economic growth (ZEG) as well as zero population growth?”

The pertinent chapter, “Changing American Institutions,” discusses what the authors perceived as problems in America’s social mores, government, and economic system, which they say makes it “the leader in humanity’s reckless exploitation of Earth.”

The United States, they argued, should focus on limiting the amount of physical product produced and in circulation.

Again, it would be “entirely logical,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote, “to set limits on the amount of product a nation needs and then strive to reduce the amount of work required to produce such a product (and, we might add, to see that the product is much more equitably distributed that it is today).”
If a nation were attempting to implement Zero Economic Growth as policy, could it do any better than the current administration?

Labels: ,

India to Add 100 Warships

It's no secret China is building a modern navy to compete with the United States.

But now India is building its own modern force to keep pace.

That ought to give you the warm fuzzies.
India has plans to add about 100 warships to its navy over the next decade as it seeks to modernise its armed forces, and develop its low-cost shipbuilding capabilities.

Captain Alok Bhatnagar, director of naval plans at India’s ministry of defence, said on Thursday that 32 warships and submarines were under construction in the country’s shipyards. Work on 75 more ships, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and amphibious vessels, would begin over 10 years.

New Delhi is sensitive to lagging behind Beijing's naval might in the region. China has three times the number of combat vessels as India and five times the personnel. Officials are wary of port developments in neighbouring Pakistan and Sri Lanka that offer Chinese warships anchorages and potentially greater control of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

However, India has one of the fastest growing navies in the world. Its fleet of about 120 vessels is the fifth largest.
Of course none of that naval construction will produce any CO2.

The United States Navy is the largest -- still -- with around 283 ships, including 11 aircraft carriers. But if you add 120 plus 100, that would at least put India in the same neighborhood.

No one seems to know exactly how many ships the Chinese have, although it is known they are developing aircraft carrier capabilities and have an estimated 20 nuclear subs.

Labels: , ,

The Name of the Antichrist?

For the record, I do not believe that our president is the Antichrist. On this my wife and I agree to disagree.

I believe that he might be a foreshadowing of the Antichrist, most likely unknowingly. There have been others.

If you but take President Barack Hussein Obama at face value, he is certainly an enemy of capitalism and of the U.S. Constitution as it is written. That, in my opinion, is enough to cause great damage.

But a viral video on Youtube is certainly worth throwing into the ruminative mix, as an American Christian, a preacher I would guess, has done some research into the old Hebrew words for Lightning from the Heavens, as in Luke 10:18 where Jesus remarks, "I beheld Satan as lightning falling from Heaven."

The result?

Baraq UBamah


I link; you decide.

Labels: , ,

Another Reason You Can't Trust the Blue Dogs

Another reason you can't trust any "compromise" coming out of this Congress.

Abortion measure passes, then fails, in House
WASHINGTON — An anti-abortion amendment to a sweeping health overhaul bill was voted down in a House committee late Thursday — a dramatic reversal just hours after the measure initially was approved.

The amendment said health care legislation moving through Congress may not impose requirements for coverage of abortion, except in limited cases. It was approved in the Energy and Commerce Committee after conservative Democrats joined Republicans to support it.

But committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., invoked House rules that allowed him to bring up the amendment for a second vote, despite Republican objections.

This time, one conservative Democrat — Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee — changed his vote from "yes" to "no." And a second conservative Democrat who hadn't voted the first time — Rep. Zack Space of Ohio — voted "no."

It was enough to take down the amendment on a 30-29 vote.
How can you call Gordon and Space "conservative" when they voted to keep the abortion provisions in the health care legislation?

Yes, I know they identify themselves as Blue Dog Democrats, alleged conservatives, but if you support taxpayer funded abortions you really cannot call yourself a conservative. Not even a fiscal conservative.

Do not be fooled by these "Blue Dogs." They are not nearly as conservative as they pretend to be. They are stealth votes for the Progressive agenda. Their very presence in Congress keeps Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Barney Frank, and their ilk in power.

If the Blue Dogs won't work with conservative Republicans to stop taxpayer funded abortions, how hard will they work at anything else?

Labels: , ,

Secret Memo Leaked: Insurance Companies 'Evil'

A secret memo between House Democratic leaders outlines their strategy to sucker in the American people -- you -- to support ObamaCare. It's simple:

Insurance Companies Are Evil
“Our message is simple. It is now being echoed by the White House,” said the memo sent to all Democratic members. “And it counters the Republican ‘government takeover’ message.”

The message in the memo, though, won't fit on a bumper sticker:

“Remove the insurance companies from between you and your doctor— capping what they can force you to pay in out of pocket expenses, co-pays and deductibles, and giving you the peace of mind you will be covered for the care you need, if get sick, or if you change or lose your job.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) brought out the new message in an exchange with reporters in the Capitol, when she said, “They are the villains in this.”

The attack comes even though the health insurance industry hasn’t attacked President Obama’s plan or the legislation being hammered out in Congress.
The old razzle dazzle "divide and conquer." The Alinsky Method of identifying your target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.

The insurance companies are the target.

It's an easy target because most people do not understand how insurance works. The concept of insurance is to pool the risk of a large number of people, who pay premiums for "coverage." The insurance company calculates the risk of a certain number of people developing this or that illness, or needing doctor visits, or having accidents that will require medical care. Based on these scientific calculations based on actual experiences of large groups, they can offer customers coverage.

This requires a lot of people and a lot of paperwork, and the investors in these companies fully expect to derive a profit. So would you. Without the profit incentive, they would pull their investments and the companies would fold.

Before the advent of modern health insurance, people went to doctors and hospitals and paid cash. Or chickens. Or eggs. Or whatever they had. Back in those days you had a lot of Christian people in the health care industry, because medicine was a holy calling. You weren't likely to make a ton of money. You also were not likely to have a lot of modern diagnostic machinery and tools because the average doctor couldn't afford it based on what people were able to pay. A great number of hospitals were founded and operated by Catholic sisters (nuns) who worked for peanuts out of love for Christ.

The arrival of modern health insurance for the masses changed this picture. Some of the change was very, very good. The loss of the family doctor who made house calls for fried chicken was one of the sadder changes. But the new doctor had access to equipment, and often colleagues who specialized, that could make a dramatic difference in your quality of care. Hospitals changed too. They "secularized" and got all modern. Some nuns decided to go into social causes, and others grew old and retired. Much of the sense of the sacred in hospital work was lost. But hospitals got to the point where they could, with modern medical tools, perform operations and promote healing that in earlier times would have been thought miraculous.

It was change, but it was driven by both the desire to provide excellence and the desire to make money. It seemed to work pretty well until Lucifer came along.

I'm sorry. I meant Big Government. Over the years the Progressives in both political parties -- who hate capitalism AND despise religion -- have created new systems like Medicare and Medicaid that have intruded on the private system. They've passed laws at federal and state levels mandating that certain coverages be given, who cares about the actuarial charts. They granted unrestricted access to medical care for people without insurance or the means to pay, including people in this country illegally.

All in the name of Seeking a Brighter Path for humanity, of course. The intentions are always well meant.

The government, and our government-run schools, have taught people that you are buying health care, not insurance. That is not accurate. But the misconception means that more and more people are demanding that they get the care without the cost.

Democrats are now on message that Insurance Companies are Evil, and that only Big Government can eradicate them so that they will not stand between you and your medical care.

That is true. Instead it will be Lucifer himself, Big Government, standing between you and your medical care. You will be told that you are getting it for Free, as a basic Constitutional right.

But as any fiddling fool will tell you, when you sell your soul to Lucifer, you have the Devil to pay.

Labels: , ,

Pulled Over for Speeding!

Six days on the road, and pulled over by the government for speeding through -- cue Dr. Evil -- One Billion Dollars!

Cash for Clunkers is over.

Actually the government isn't sure whether they've spent $1 billion or $2 billion. Or less.

But they are sure that they are going to be in trouble quickly because a lot of people jumped on the Cash for Clunker voucher program.

As I said yesterday, I don't like the program, and if they add more money and start it up again there will be repercussions and consequences, to be especially felt by the poor as they won't be able to find parts for the old cars that many will keep because they can't afford a $40,000 vehicle. Or $30,000. Or $20,000. Or even $10,000.

And why will the used car parts market go sky high? Because the cars taken in by the Cash for Clunkers program are being crushed and sent off to China for meltdown. China, doing the CO2 intensive remanufacturing that Americans aren't allowed to do anymore.

I'm glad Cash for Clunkers is over, and I hope that you are paying attention. If you turn your thermostat control over to these people, or your health care, don't be too surprised when you find that they suspend some other things you were counting on.

Labels: , ,

White House Has Poor Manners for Rich Folks

If you receive an invitation for lunch or dinner at the White House, you might want to think twice before accepting the invitation.

White House Makes CEOs Pay for Lunch
Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.

But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.

The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol.

“I’m sure they have their political reasons for doing that, but I think it’s not what quote, hospitality, unquote is all about,” said Letitia Baldrige, who headed Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House staff in the early 1960s. “We’ve got to relax about this. To have people to the White House and worry about the price of things is laughable.”

“I don’t know what the menu was, but I’m sure it wasn’t braised pheasant,” she said.
The sad thing about this story is that many people will say, "Yeah, get those rich bastards! Charge 'em double! Let 'em know what's coming; we're gonna strip away their ill gotten gains!"

Which means that this story is exactly what President Obama and his evil Progressive henchmen want you to read, because they are counting on ramping up envy among people of different economic ranks -- class envy -- in order to build support for their agenda.

Of course, if we tax the rich and bill them double for their meals, who will pay the bulk of the taxes once they become poor like the rest of us? New numbers out today show that the top one percent of earners in America now pay 40.4 percent of the income taxes. (And this with the lower tax rates brought to you by the wicked George W. Bush and a Republican Congress.)

Once the rich are poor, the federal government will still have a big appetite for money, and it will turn to the middle class and the poor to make up for the loss of revenue.

That itching and twitching you feel is the target being painted 0n your back by the progressive leaders in Washington.

No free lunch, indeed.


I just noticed this is Post No. 1600. And it won't cost you a penny more.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Egg-Sucking Blue Dogs & the ObamaCare Compromise

Back when I was growing up on the farm, I learned that there was a difference between dogs that could hunt, and dogs that would make a lot of noise but were generally lazy.

We didn't own these dogs. We had a fine watchdog that was a cross between Alaskan Husky and Border Collie. He kept the yapping rabble from the woods out of the yard around our house. But the hunting dogs visited us anyway. Often. Their owners would turn them loose of a night, and they would go baying across the countryside in search raccoons and possum.

The hunting dogs produced results for men who were genuinely hunting.

The others, the noisy, lazy ones, were generally the dogs of shiftless, beer-swilling men who claimed to be coon-hunters but in truth were just guys who liked to get away from home to swap ribald stories of loose women, lie about their exploits, and talk sports. Like most people, we didn't really care as long as they didn't leave their empties alongside our property.

But you could tell a difference in the dogs. The good hunting dogs were well fed, usually returned to their masters, and if they did wander by they were well behaved until someone came looking for them.

The dogs of the bull-tossers were often poorly fed, mistreated, and poorly behaved. They would often as not wind up in the henhouse where we would find them stealing eggs. Naturally they were penitent when they were caught, tails tucked between their legs, and they would flee as soon as you told them to "git." However, if you turned your back on them to soon, they would return to the property, and to the hen house.

Some people would shoot these dogs. My folks and I could never bring ourselves to that point, although they made us angry enough. Sometimes we'd load 'em into the pickup where we would drive them over to the property of one of the men we knew were involved with this kind of faux hunting. My dad said that they would get back to the original owners soon enough, because no one wanted to feed extra dogs, especially "the lazy SOBs who don't actually hunt."

I couldn't help but think of the two types of hunting dogs when I heard that the Blue Dog Democrats had reached a "compromise" on the health care reform bill with their fellow Democrats on Henry Waxman's committee.

The baying Blue Dogs have promised us that they are fiscally conservative men hunting for savings on our behalf. Well, according to the word from Waxman's committee, here's what they've accomplished:

First, they "won" a promise that ObamaCare won't be voted on for a few more weeks. They already had that one in the bag. This is a non issue.

Second, they claim that ObamaCare will not have a mandatory government plan but will be optional. That was already in the wording of the bill.

Third, on a bill that easily will cost $1.5 Trillion in its first 10 years, they've got Democrats to agree that a meager Point One Trillion in savings will be made in the cost, leaving us with "only" $1.4 Trillion to worry about. With that small egg from our hen house, these Blue Dogs congratulate themselves on a fine hunting expedition and toss in the white towel.

And they expect us to pet them behind the ears and feed them some more. Oh, yes; they expect our grateful vote in 2010.

Well, pardon the hell out of me, but what did I warn you about? I told you the Blue Dogs would sell us out, that they were merely looking for sufficient political cover so that they could tell us that they worked hard to "protect us" from those evil liberals on Capitol Hill, all the while seeing how many eggs they could suck from our hen house!

Those noisy hounds from my youth were worthless, and not worth shooting. So, too, with these "blue" hounds of the today's political world. You can't count on them to have principles, other than their own self-preservation. If we do not rid ourselves of them in November 2010, they will sneak back into our lives, and destroy our nest eggs, one by one.

A pro-ObamaCare columnist at the online version of the Kansas City Star noted that the Blue Dogs essentially gave President Obama a victory. You can read his valedictory here.

If the Pro-ObamaCare people know the truth, what is your excuse?

Labels: , ,

'Antoinette' Obama -- 'Let Them Eat Cupcakes!'

The President believes that you should be grateful that his $787 billion stimulus package -- the one that isn't creating new jobs after all -- has at least given you a "tax cut".

Never mind that the "tax cut" isn't a tax cut at all, but a temporary change in the payroll withholding rate that, if you are unlucky, will come back to haunt you next April 15.

And never mind that the "tax cut" amounts to about $8 a week for the average American worker.

President Obama says you can use it to buy the "necessities of life" which, he says, should include cupcakes.

Yeah, cupcakes. Which is about all you can afford on $8. A cupcake or two a day.

I was driving when I heard his quote from his Raleigh, N.C., town hall meeting yesterday. I nearly lost control as I yelled in disgust. "Cupcakes!"

Of course, I knew that he was making a joke, referring to a local baker he had introduced to the crowd. It wasn't funny yesterday, and it isn't funny today. Marie Antoinette very well have been joking too.

I don't want the federal government "giving" me cupcake money. Especially when it's my damn money to begin with. That was MY paycheck that you decided, in your beneficient omnipotence, to be a little kinder too in the short term. It was MY work that earned MY pay that you TAX so that General Electric can get big fat government contracts to build crap that your policies will force me and other Americans to use.

I don't want the federal government "giving" me "cash for clunkers." Especially since I found out that you don't actually get the "cash" for your "clunker." The dealer does. If you qualify, which isn't a slam dunk, by the way.

And then, this morning, it hit me about "Cash for Clunkers." The President oversaw the takeover of two of the Big Three automakers, and under orders they promptly began to eliminate hundreds of dealerships across the fruited plain. Especially those dealerships owned by people who were not Democrats or friends of the Progressive wing of that party.

Now follow the bouncing ball here: The surviving dealers -- the favored of The Obama -- get the "Cash for Clunkers" money. Sure, there will be other dealerships, like Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, who will get in on this too. That will make them more amenable later when the next round of "Socialize the Auto Industry" is introduced. If socialism is profitable, at least in the short term, look for it to become more popular.

All you have to do is listen to those obscene radio and TV commercials touting how awesome the "Cash for Clunkers" program is. They make me sick to my stomach. The government is handing out billions to promote the destruction of vehicles that actually run, enticing Americans who may be better off driving a good "clunker" than taking on a big car loan during these iffy economic times, into going into debt.

Since the individual does not actually see the money in his or her bank account, there is no guarantee that the auto companies will not simply raise prices to take advantage of this government-sponsored bonanza.

The "clunker" in this scenario, is your common sense, thrown into chaos by a government that is out of control, overstepping its constitutional limits.

Nothing good came come of this. And in your gut, you know it.

Have a cupcake.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oooh! Double-digit Rasmussen Deficit for The One

The Verdict is in from President Obama's health care speech on Wednesday that morphed into an attack on the Cambridge, Mass., police -- and by extension all law enforcement officials. The People are not pleased.

Rasmussen's Daily Presidential Tracking poll shows that there is now a double-digit gap of 11 points between those who really like the president's performance and those who really, really don't.

That's the highest so far. Only 29 percent of those polled strongly approve of The One. He seems to have found a ledge, demographically speaking, to hang on to, but it isn't enough for a coattail effect for other politicians to latch on to. Meanwhile his negatives, those strongly disapproving, have jumped to 40 percent.

Other internals of the polling aren't good for Obama. Some 76 percent polled now view him as "politically liberal," a label he has tried to fudge since running for president. This means that the moderates, or as I like to call them "the squishy middle", are now discovering for themselves the real Barack Hussein Obama and they are having buyer's remorse.

Promising bigger, more intrusive government and higher taxes during a period of rising unemployment and economic uncertainty, while stirring the pot of racism, isn't exactly going to win a lot of friends in America which, strangely enough, continues to be a center-right kind of place.

Americans continue to love liberty, often without even knowing why.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

This Just About Ought to Kill ObamaCare

It's a shame this was released on a Saturday:

CBO Deals New Blow to Health Plan
For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Texas May Refuse ObamaCare -- If It Passes

In the event ObamaCare becomes federal law, the State of Texas may not go along with the plan.
Perry spoke out against President Barack Obama’s healthcare package less than 24 hours after the president used a prime-time news conference Wednesday night to try to sell the massive legislative package to Congress and the public.

"It really is a state issue, and if there was ever an argument for the 10th Amendment and for letting the states find a solution to their problems, this may be at the top of the class," Perry said. "A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution."
Faced with up to $4 billion in new costs to cover a lot of uninsured folks, Gov. Rick Perry says he's thinking of invoking the 10th Amendment to the Constitution which holds that any power not specifically allocated to the federal government remains with the individual states, or the People.

Many people do not realize that the ObamaCare proposal plans to shift billions of dollars in the cost to the individual states by redefining who is eligible for Medicare, the joint federal-state program. This is one of the unsung ways that President Obama says he is going to "pay for" his expensive plan, by forcing individual states to pay more money.

That very likely will necessitate higher state taxes for individuals, most of whom will make far less than $250,000 a year. But it would give the president the ability to say that he wasn't the one responsible.

Texas might be the first to invoke the 10th Amendment in such a case, but I doubt it would be the last.

Labels: , ,

Being Obama Means Never Having to Say 'I'm Sorry'

President Obama's motive for inserting himself into the debate over whether racism was involved in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis (Skip) Gates remains a mystery. He chose to answer a question about it at the end of his Wednesday night press conference on health care. In doing so, he first said he didn't know all the facts. Then he declared that the Cambridge, Mass., police acted "stupidly."

What was disappearing from the news suddenly took on new life as the President of the United States through the full faith and credibility of his office on the side of the aggrieved professor.

What was Obama hoping to gain here?

Today he makes an impromptu appearance before the White House press and "regrets" the media "obsession" over his Wednesday comments. He is unapologetic about those remarks which, he claims, are part of a "teachable moment" for America.

So what have we learned?

That Obama's thin skin extends beyond his own person to any issue or individual that he cares to protect.

That he will throw anyone "under the bus" to save himself. Professor Gates, he said today, obviously "overreacted."

That President Obama is an ideologue. He believes that racism is so thoroughly ingrained in American society that you can't question anyone who raises the race card, even improperly, because combatting racism is a cause too big to fail.

And that Obama won't apologize. His pride simply won't allow it.

He was wrong, as president, to weigh in on something local, and especially as he did not have all the facts. A modern president simply cannot project that kind of presence. It is not his role, and it sends a chilling message to state and local officials: make sure you don't lock horns with any of the president's friends.

This is not healthy. It doesn't advance the cause of racial unity. I'm not sure it advances the cause of anything except the president's already inflated ego. Forget, too, the idea of a Post-Racial America: with his inflexible views of race relations, we can never get beyond it.

Speaking of health care, Obama is not winning friends and influencing people with his attack on police officers who were just doing their jobs; in fact, they were protecting Gates' property, whether he chose to see it that way or not. There are many who, watching this weird story, are beginning to realize that Barack Hussein Obama doesn't like to be challenged on anything. Do you want to trust your health care plan to this man and his like-minded minions?

Thin-skinned and paranoid men have never done well as president. Not over the long haul.

Labels: , ,

A Reminder of Why McCain Lost

Proving once again how quickly the McCain team throws in the towel:

McCain Lawyers Investigated Obama Citizenship

Of course they were satisfied with an affidavit from a Hawaii official that someone, somewhere had actually seen a birth certificate, once upon a time. This alleged birth certificate still hasn't seen the light of day, despite court efforts to bring it out from beneath the warehouse crates where the Ark of the Covenant and all other treasures of antiquity are stored.

Stonewalled on any actual evidence, they decided to go with the flow, just like everyone else.

I've hesitated to get on this particular bandwagon because I'm not sure it's ever going to get resolved and it seems like one of those "horse has left the barn" issues, of which there are many with this president.

But it seems to me that McCain had the right, and maybe even an obligation, to demand that Obama reveal his real birth certificate, if one exists, during the campaign. He and his lawyers chose not to do so, and so it became just one more missed opportunity to be forceful and challenging. So typical of the McCain organization. Is it any wonder he lost?

Left unresolved, the rumors and the issue won't go away. As this president undertakes one socialist program after another, a series of power grabs that are undermining our Constitution and transforming our way of life, shouldn't we at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he is qualified, under the Constitution, to be president?

All it would take is one small little gesture of transparency.

Labels: ,

One Man's Solution to Tight Credit

Turned down for an $80,000 mortgage on a home worth $385,000, a New Zealand man decided that the bank he had used for 25 years was no longer the place to keep his money.

So he made a withdrawal of his account -- $190,000 in $20 bills!

Mr Griffiths, a loyal Westpac customer for 25 years, decided to withdraw his money after the bank rejected his application for an $80,000 mortgage. "It's about time normal people took a stand."

He said the bank turned down his application because he did not have a regular income as an artist. However, he was a successful artist, exhibiting his paintings at the World of Wearable Art complex, in Christchurch and New York, he said.

He wanted to buy a $385,000 property in Mapua, had $200,000 in cash and was going to sell his $110,000 campervan.

That more than met the bank's criteria for a 20 per cent deposit, and the property which included a home and commercial premises would have returned $500 a week, he said.

He was disappointed when his loan application was rejected, but it was Westpac losing $111 million to Lane Walker Rudkin Industries that tipped his decision to withdraw his money.

"They can lose $110 million with LWR but turn down a normal customer who has never missed a loan payment," he said. "If they don't have the trust in me after 25 years, there's a problem for Westpac."

This is the kind of fighting spirit I'd like to see in more Americans. Quit putting up with institutions that screw you over. Bigger is not necessarily better. Maybe we need to start doing business with smaller firms that appreciate us.

His message to Westpac: "If you don't support the community, the community won't support you."

The bank, of course, insists that it did nothing for which it should apologize. There's a lot of that going around these days.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Most Determined Cases of Muslim Drowning

Mark Steyn notes today that Muslim females are dying in odd water accidents in Canada.
Three or so weeks back, a submerged car was found in the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont., containing the bodies of three teenage girls and their aunt — a story initially reported as "Mysterious Death Of 4 Quebecers Baffles Kingston Police". When it emerged that the four female Quebecers were, in fact, Muslim, the tearful parents offered up a strange tale of an impromptu midnight driving lesson gone tragically wrong ("Driving Lesson May Have Led To Drowning").

La Presse is now reporting that the girls' father, mother, and brother have been arrested en route to Montreal Airport, and that the deceased "aunt" or (alternatively) "cousin" was, in fact, the girls' father's first wife. The words "crime d'honneur" are beginning to creep into newspaper accounts.
The blogger Scaramouche suspects that an odd swimming pool accident in which three female members of a Muslim family drowned, and another is critical, should get a second look.
Police say 14-year-old Kinza Kaianad died Monday evening at Kingston General Hospital as a result of injuries she sustained Saturday in a hotel pool in Gananoque, roughly 30 kilometres east of Kingston.

Her mother, 43-year-old Naila Yasmin, died in hospital on Sunday.

Yasmin, Kaianad and another daughter, age 11, were found unconscious in the indoor hotel pool just before 9 a.m. Saturday.
Steyn calls it "statistically improbable" that these were mere accidental drownings. It seems more likely that here in the summer months, once the ice has thawed, water is the preferred means of honor executions.

Labels: ,

Art Appreciation Class for Thursday, July 23, 2009

Artistic beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but art is generally better when it reflects the realities of one's universe.

This one does just fine.

(Yes, I know this image is everywhere today, but I don't care.)

Labels: ,

Always the Health Care Demagogue

President Obama and his "team" are promoting health care reform principally by demonizing doctors, the rich, and Republican members of Congress. He continually uses the "straw man argument" setup when he declares, "Some say that we should stick with the status quo, but I say ..." when no one is making that argument at all.

In his press conference Wednesday night, the president claimed that doctors are so fixated on making money that they will routinely prescribe unnecessary surgeries (he cited tonsillectomies) rather than pills (allergies). He does the medical community a great disservice in saying so, and he twists the facts all out of phase with reality. Pediatricians might advocate removing the tonsils of a child who has repeated problems in that area, but he (or she) will refer the patient to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who in turn might well enlist the services of a surgeon to do the actual operation.

Profit to the pediatrician? None. Unless, of course, Obama is suggesting that there are professional kickbacks being paid. That is something that, as a member of the Chicago school of politics, he undoubtedly has much more experience than the rest of us. Still, you think someone -- like an insurance company -- would have discovered such a nefarious practice and would have raised a big, public stink.

No, the probability is that doctors advise surgeries because they believe them to be in the best interest of their patients. And therein lies the danger of ObamaCare: he wants to take this kind of decision away from trained medical professions and put it into the hands of an "expert" in Washington who will render a decision based on regulatory guidelines and budget numbers.

Obama will demagogue doctors because the public's perception is that they are rich, elitist and driven by profits. Except for your own doctor, of course, who you know to be a caring human being, and you would hate to lose. But lose your doctor you may under ObamaCare as everything is on the table about how care is administered.

The president continues to push for a tax surcharge on the "wealthy" of America, while Democrats in the Congress fret that this might include some of their small business political supporters. It is fitting that they should worry since you do not have to be a very large business owner to run into the $280,000 floor on the surcharge, not to mention the 8 percent payroll tax you will incur if you do not offer your employees a government-certified health care plan.

The politics of "soak the rich" has always worked. The "us versus them" of class envy stirs the populist fires of the would-be socialists who think that their lives would be perfect if only those damn rich would share!

But not even America's rich have enough money to pay for ObamaCare, whose initial costs of $1.5 trillion are just the beginning of the cost to the American people and the American economy.

Finally, let's talk about Obama's Republican bashing. First he declares that "there are those who want to stick with the status quo," and he then will specifically point to Republicans. These GOP members, for all their past faults, are in the unenviable position of having insufficient numbers to do more than beg for their views to get a hearing. Between the hard politics of Pelosi and Reid and a mainstream media that would rather demonize Republicans than actually report what they are advocating, the GOP can do little more than point out that, if Congress will only allow two choices -- the status quo and Obama's Big Health Monstrosity -- then the better choice is to stick with what we have.

What we have is not perfect, but it is still the best health care system on the planet. Could it be improved? Absolutely, but not in the direction that ObamaCare will take us. Socialized medicine has never worked well, and what he has proposed will incorporate all the worst elements of government command and control.

The Republicans have some good ideas on health care reform. Unless you do your own research, you probably won't hear them.

Obama's main opposition right now are the Blue Dog Democrats, the congressmen who were elected from conservative districts across the country. They are looking for political cover, and thus negotiations are ongoing. My guess is that the Blue Dog Democrats will accept a couple of "compromises" with the president (which will be ignored later, or will be irrelevant to the big issues) and will give him his "victory." Then they will proclaim themselves to be tough, fiscally responsible public stewards who went head-to-head with The One and prevailed, assuming that you and I are just preoccupied enough, or stupid enough, to buy their act.

The Blue Dogs are a mighty thin reed for us to pin our hopes of defeating ObamaCare. We cannot for a day let down our guard and our opposition. ObamaCare, aka HR 3200, is a fatally flawed bill that deserves to go down in flames. A few cosmetic amendments will not make it look or smell any better once it becomes law.

This is why Obama is not attacking the Blue Dogs, but Republicans. The political strategy is brilliant. If the Blue Dogs cave, Obama gets his health care bill, government control of one-fifth of the economy. He wins big.

If the Blue Dogs don't give in, Obama will claim that the Republicans delivered the fatal blow, and with every economic disaster that takes place in the next 15 months before the 2010 elections he will tell Americans that he tried to save our economy with health care reform, but the Republicans would rather see American's jobless and without health care.

And if we are preoccupied enough, or stupid enough, to buy his act, we'll elect another Progressive Congress in 2010 and the march to socialism will continue.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Warning Signal on Socialized Medicine

Great Britain has socialized medicine, known as the National Health Service.

We may soon have something very much like it, including provisions for allowing bureaucrats to determine when people get certain procedures, transplants, etc.

Here's a story about a 22-year-old dying with cirrhosis of the liver, that you should read before you endorse ObamaCare:
A 22-year-old alcoholic has died after being refused a life-saving liver transplant because he was too ill to leave hospital and prove he could stay sober.

Gary Reinbach, who died in hospital on Monday from a severe case of liver cirrhosis, did not qualify for a donor liver under strict NHS rules.

The alcoholic, from Dagenham, Essex, had admitted binge drinking since he was 13 but was only taken to hospital for the first time with liver problems 10 weeks ago.

He was never discharged.

His mother Madeline Hanshaw, 44, said: "These rules are really unfair."

She told the Evening Standard: "I'm not saying you should give a transplant to someone who is in and out of hospital all the time and keeps damaging themselves, but just for people like Gary, who made a mistake and never got a second chance."


Mr Reinbach's family said he had started drinking aged 11 when his parents split up and drank heavily from the age of 13.

He had recently tried to give up and had signed up for support group Alcoholics Anonymous just weeks before he was taken into hospital, they said.

His brother Luke, 18, told the Evening Standard: "They never gave him the chance to show he could change."
Now some of you will probably just shrug your shoulders and say "tough luck, he should've stayed away from alcohol."

And some of you may say, "Well, sometimes tough decisions have to be made."

But a few of you will wonder at the arbitrary rules that will deem one person fit for medical care and another as unfit, and who will set those rules.


A Rare Dose of Common Sense on Climate

At least one of the 2,000 climate scientists of the IPCC -- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- is a climate skeptic. From the Utah Daily Herald, this:
... Tom Tripp, a magnesium specialist from Utah who gave a 45-minute keynote address in Provo at the Utah Farm Bureau Midyear Conference.

Beyond magnesium, Tripp has one other distinction to his name — he is one of 2,000 members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who share half a Nobel Prize, the other half owned by former vice president Al Gore. . . .

In his address, titled "Climate Change and What We Are Doing About It and Is It Worth It?", Tripp said ozone depletion used to be the big scary global crisis, "but that is largely solved and there is some question whether it ever existed. They don't talk about it anymore."

Now global warming is the world's existential crisis of the day, but even that has changed. Since 2002, data proves the world has actually been in a cooling phase, defying expert predictions.

To get around that, the moniker "global warming" has quietly been dropped in favor of "climate change," Tripp said. "Global cooling. When was the last time you heard that in the press?"

"Despite what you may have heard in the media, there is nothing like a consensus of scientific opinion that this is a problem," he said. "Because there is natural variability in the weather, you cannot statistically know for another 150 years. . . . There are indications, there are options, but if you are looking for hard scientific facts, you are still a long ways away."

What most people focus on is data showing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing over time. Toward the end of his lecture, however, Tripp dismissed this, saying worrying about these statistics was akin to worrying that five people had been added to a group of 30,000 people — the effect is negligible, in other words.

In addition, 700 years ago global warming halted Ancestral Pueblo corn growing, he said.

"Did man cause that change?" he said. "It does not seem very likely."

And if climate change does exist, "many models show improved agricultural output" in the U.S., he said.

Combined, all this "tells me there is not a great crash [of the global environment] about to happen in the near term," he said. "It is important to keep an open mind."

Mr. Tripp shares that half of the Nobel Prize with the 1,999 other IPCC scientists; the other half went to the Most Reverend Open Minded Archbishop Algore.


Under ObamaCare, Private Med Insurance to be Outlawed

A blogger tripped up President Obama yesterday by citing a provision of the House version of ObamaCare on the future legality of Private Health Insurance. The president said he didn't know.

I think he was lying, but you can judge for yourself.

Private health insurance, if you do not remember, is probably what you have, unless you rely on Medicare and Medicaid, or the VA.

From Investors Business Daily (HT: Red Stater):
What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.
Yes, you read that correctly. No new policies after the public option becomes the law of the land. You could be insured under the last private plan of your life right now.

Is this what you voted for?

The rest of the IBD story:
It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

From the beginning, opponents of the public option plan have warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage.

The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."

What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.
This is Transformational.

Ask yourself, if the ObamaCare doesn't go into effect until 2013, why does Congress need to give Obama the political victory of legislation passed by August 1, 2009?

There's no need to rush this. There is a need to make sure that all Americans understand that with ObamaCare's passage, the days of health care freedom are numbered, and so are other freedoms inextricably linked with an individual's lifestyle decisions.

If ObamaCare isn't stopped, some day soon you will hear the president moaning and groaning that he doesn't want to nationalize health care but, doggone it!, Congress passed this legislation that he must enforce, and the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

Or some such horse manure.

OTHER LINKS -- Nina Owcherenko weighs in on the end of private health care insurance with her post "Y
ou Will Lose Your Current Insurance. Period. End of Story."

Also the Heritage Foundation rings its "Morning Bell" with more details on how up to 100 million Americans may lose their private health care coverage with the President's (allegedly unread) proposals.

Labels: , ,

Transforming America by Ending Home Ownership

In his opening remarks to the nation after becoming president, Barack Obama told us he was not content with merely rebuilding America, but transforming it.

Was anyone paying attention to this?

A story we saw and then nearly forgot from last Thursday reports on how administration officials are considering new programs that would allow people to "rent" their foreclosed homes.

You might have to let that sink in for a moment. You lose your home to foreclosure? No big deal. Uncle Sam will force your mortgage lender to let you stay and pay "rent."

That might be a good thing for a small percentage of jobless Americans who are upside down on their homes and can't afford to leave town.

But it also would be an incredible incentive for many people to just "give up."

Worse, it is a huge incentive for the federal government to begin acting as landlord to the majority of America's homeowners. Over a period of time, of course. You can't just nationalize single-family housing overnight like you can the auto dealers.

As it stands, some 57 percent of America's mortgages are held by the federal government, so they are already in the housing business. In fact, one of the biggest unsung causes of our economic troubles were the bad mortgages and debt derivatives that came from the government's "we'll loan to anyone" policies of the late '90s onward.

The Obama government sees crisis as opportunity:
... Washington policymakers are considering a new round of programs to help struggling families stay in their homes, including possibly offering newly jobless homeowners emergency loans to help make mortgage payments or allowing them to rent their foreclosed home.


Economist Doug Lee of Economics from Washington is blunt. “The government’s program to assist homeowners by restructuring loans has been a failure,” he wrote in his most recent client note. “But the Government is not giving up.”

So far this year, lenders have pushed 1.5 million homeowners into the foreclosure process, according to a report Thursday morning from RealtyTrac. Government officials predict that up to 6 million homes could be lost to foreclosure in the current economic crisis. The unemployment rate hit 9.5% in June, the highest level in 26 years, fueling the rise in foreclosures.

But so far, the Obama Administration’s principal foreclosure prevention program, the $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program [HAMP] launched in February, has generated just 160,000 90-day “trial” modifications, out of 325,000 modifications offered to distressed families.
In short, the government is dragging its feet in the restructuring program because it has come up with a better, more socialist plan: Quit goofling around with private enterprise (capitalist) solutions and go for broke. Let the Government be the Landlord!
[Herbert] Allison [manager of the TARP fund] told senators that HAMP, though announced five months ago, finally got up and running 10 weeks ago; he predicted modifications will accelerate. “This is still early,” Allison said. “Here we are, and we are trying to make it work as fast as we possibly can.”

But Allison warned senators that “even if HAMP is a total success, we should still expect millions of foreclosures, as President Obama noted when he launched the program.”
"As fast as we possibly can" translates to five months. Remember this when the government takes over your health care.

Consider this probability: The Obama Plan is to overwhelm the existing system so that Congress and the people cannot deal with the changes. Thus emergency powers will be sought and granted, and unelected and unconfirmed Czars will be collecting rent checks from millions more Americans.

This is not the result of bureaucratic bungling, although it is encouraged; it is the result of a well-crafted plan to reduce and eventually end the private ownership of homes (property) in America. Government then will become the Beneficent Guarantor of Equal Housing for All, especially those who are the losers in life's lottery.

The Looters reign; the producers get taken to the cleaners.

That's transformational Change you'd better be prepared to believe in.

Labels: , ,

Caution: Losing Your Temper May Be Terroristic

Maybe it was the medication. Maybe it was the profane sass he got from the other end of the telephone line.

But an Ohio man lost his temper with a telemarketing firm and said some things he most likely regrets. Now he sits in jail 450 miles from home on terrorism charges.

Where are you, ACLU?
An Ohio man, fed up with deceptive junk mail, made the mistake of losing his temper while on the phone with a St. Louis company pitching an extended auto-service contract. Now he finds himself behind bars, where he is charged with making a terrorist threat.

According to court documents, Charles W. Papenfus, 43, allegedly told a sales representative during a May 18 telephone call that he would burn down the building and kill the employees and their families. He was indicted for making a terrorist threat, a Class D felony; and he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison if convicted.

Papenfus' wife, Tracie, said she hasn't seen her husband since his arrest on June 27, when he was lured to a Fostoria, Ohio, police station with a false story about being suspected in a tavern fight there. Charles Papenfus, a self-employed mechanic who sometimes works on the department's police cruisers, dropped by the station to clear his name, she said.

Tracie Papenfus said she still can't understand why her husband is held 450 miles from home at the St. Louis workhouse on a $45,000 bond she can't afford to pay.

"He shouldn't have mouthed off on the phone, but this is overkill," Tracie Papenfus said. "He just can't handle it in there. He's not a criminal. ... They make it sound like he's a terrorist, and he's far from it."
The firm is one of those infamous auto service warranty firms that are (illegally in some cases) telephoning every household and cellphone in America. Let's be honest with ourselves: haven't you just once thought about how good it would feel to rip out the phone lines in their HQs? Of course, we may think these evil thoughts but most of us banish them from our heads quickly, since they can only lead to no good. Then again, most of us are not on pain medications as was Papenfus, which might explain his outburst.

Then again, he could've been provoked.
Tracie Papenfus said her husband called a St. Louis telemarketing firm — she didn't know the name — after getting a mailer stating that the factory warranty had expired for the 1996 Ford Taurus driven by his 23-year-old son. The car, bought as-is for $3,000, hasn't had a factory warranty for years.

"He wanted to know, 'Why are you sending this when we've never had a warranty?'" Tracie Papenfus said.

In fact, Charles Papenfus asked that same question several times. He called the firm after receiving the mailer, then he called the company back to complain some more, said Douglas Forsyth, a local attorney representing Papenfus. The call during which Papenfus allegedly made a terrorist threat was initiated by the firm, in a response to a voice-mail message left by Papenfus, Forsyth said.

"They insulted each other," Forsyth said, adding that Papenfus called the company "a scam" and the telemarketer called Papenfus "a jackass or (an expletive) or both."

Forsyth said that, several minutes into the call, Papenfus said something about burning down the firm's building.

Tracie Papenfus said the outburst was unusual for her husband, who she described as "a cool-headed guy." However, she said, he hadn't quite been himself after taking prescription painkiller medication for a compound wrist fracture he received in a motorcycle accident a few days before the call occurred. Irritability can be one side effect from those drugs, Forsyth said.
A spokesman for the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, Charles Thetford, said he could understand Papenfus' frustration.
"While it's not something we condone, it is something we can understand," Thetford said. "Oftentimes, consumers feel pushed and pushed. ... It's a frustration we hear from consumers every day when they talk about the extended-service contract industry."
The question now becomes: When will common sense rear its beautiful head and someone in the justice system send this poor man back home?

The real criminals are the people who run these telemarketing outfits that insult the intelligence of American consumers thousands of times daily, who run roughshod over the traditional bounds of etiquette, who specialize in commercial mendacity to frighten folks into buying their products, and then curse them when they do not buy.

We protect their right to free speech on the telephone because it is the American way to put up with such nonsense.

But we should also protect the right of free speech for people to occasional tell them to go to hell.

Prosecuting this poor man as a terrorist because he lost his temper is a cruel joke and unworthy of America.

Labels: ,

Opening Thought Salvo for Tuesday, July 21

I saw Old Glory waving proudly this morning in the breeze from a wonderful round of thunderstorms that moved through during the night hours. Wonderful in most respects, except that lightning set off one or more of the tornado alert sirens about 4 a.m. and, for at least five minutes, there was some concern that we were in a real event. When it didn't cycle down, I unilaterally declared the "all clear" for my family and tried to go back to sleep for awhile.

As is usual when sleep is interrupted and its rainy and cool, I nearly overslept.

But at least the flag is still there. How long, I wonder, will that be true?

There is word today that legislation on Capitol Hill would "elevate" the inspectors general to presidential level appointments. These are men and women who are supposed to act as checks against reckless or unlawful spending and actions by executive branch agencies. They are appointed by Congress. After several unfortunate run-ins with inspectors general who are pointing out irregularities, the Obama Administration is pushing to have control of the watchers.

Why not just have them eliminated, you might ask? Oh, but that wouldn't have the appearance of propriety. We must pretend that we are ethical and moral, while stealing the public blind.

Did you know that one of the Czars of the Obama administration is a Marxist environmentalist who learned to love collectivism while in prison? Yeah, I know, it sounds like one of those wacky urban legends, but this story happens to be true. Van Jones, a 41-year-old Yale educated lawyer, specialized in black nationalism, got caught up in the Rodney King riots, and then adopted his own communist manifesto while in jail in that aftermath. He said:
I was a rowdy [black] nationalist on April 28th [1992], and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist. (...)

I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.' I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary."
He became the founder of California's Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, "a non-profit agency for justice, opportunities and peace." It in turn was affiliated with an outfit called STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a "multi-racial activist collective with Marxist influences.

At some point Jones figured that environmentalism was the vehicle in which to drive his agenda, so he became active in the "green" movement. And that's where we find him today, an unelected, unconfirmed Czar in the Obama White House. Unrepentant and unleashed at the national level.

Would you like to know more? Try this National Review Online post.

There are more insults to the American Republic in the news this morning, but I figured this would be enough to get your heart rate up if your coffee is taking too long.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Real Astronauts Want Real Frontiers

Some of the original Apollo astronauts aren't happy with the sorry state of the American space program.

NASA is finishing construction of the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, and plans to retire the shuttle fleet next year. After that, the United States plans to pay Russia to ferry crews to the outpost, which orbits 225 miles above Earth.

"We've spent a lot of money up there for almost nothing. It's almost a white elephant," Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said. "Until we can really get a return on our investment on that particular project, then it was money wasted."

The United States spent about $25 billion, in 1969 dollars, on the Apollo project. The investment, which consumed about 4 percent of the federal budget, was returned many times over, the astronauts said.

"We now seem to think it's too much to put 0.6 percent into the NASA budget," said Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham. "That is idiotic in my opinion."

I agree with them in part: the space program is in shambles, and President Obama's mini-rhetoric today didn't exactly bring back visions of JFK. Obama is focused on destroying this nation's ability to do great things, not do great things. (But that's socialism for you.)

The problem with the space program is that it is still designed, operated and controlled by the government. One president may be gung ho for a Mars project (like Bush 43), where another seems content to let the Russians and Chinese have all the fun. As long as there is no long-term continuity, this will be the case.

If there are rewards in space, and I believe there are, then we should unshackle people to go find them. Let's not get all "we are the world" and expect a consortium of nations to accomplish anything meaningful. The International Space Station is a shiny, bright tinkertoy in the sky, but it's a fragile toy that is focused on "earth science" to such an exent that nothing else seems to get done.

Damn it! We need to send real men back to the Moon to mine it for minerals. Maybe build a solar power collection station that could beam power back to the Earth, come rain or shine. Maybe build factories to design a new generation of interplanetary exploration ships that would use moon-stuff as fuel, and the Moon as a convenient launching post to Mars, where we know there is water.

If we opened a Real New Frontier in space it would inspire and challenge young people, instead of merely shackling the youth with Cap'n Tax schemes, pseudo-volunteerism appeals and the golden chain of guaranteed health care.

That's what we're gonna get, and if Obama is successful, that's all we're gonna have.

But we'll always have Tranquillity Base.

Labels: ,

A High Degree of Climate Uncertainty

Just one more thing that science has figured out on global warming, er, climate change.

In a report about a 2007 Chinese dust cloud that circled the earth completely in only 13 days, there is this interesting conclusion:
The dust cloud measured about 3 km (1.9 miles) vertically and up to 2,000 km horizontally and it stayed that way even after one full trip around the globe.

"The reason why the cloud structure was very well maintained was because the dust was uplifted ... where the atmosphere is very stable," Uno said.

Researchers believe dust particles trigger the formation of high-altitude cirrus clouds -- although experts have no idea whether such clouds warm or cool the earth.
Maybe they should consult Archbishop Algore.

Labels: ,

40 Years Ago: The View From Two Frontiers

Forty years ago today, as a young lad working on a ranch in Missouri, a somewhat isolated place from the rest of civilization. I eagerly awaited the news from the Moon. A space program enthusiast (nut), I knew everything there was to be known about the Apollo program, the astronauts, the capsule, the big Saturn booster that launched them, etc. My imagination was on the high frontier; my job was on the old one.

The day took an ugly turn when one of the cows had trouble giving birth. We knew she was missing and found her near the woods that bordered the river which served as the boundary for much of the ranch. She was in bad shape. There was no time to waste on calling for a vet, so we all got involved in assisting with her delivery which, if you are curious, is to reach in and grab the front hooves and head of the calf and pull like crazy.

It's not pretty and it wasn't fun, but we managed to get the calf out. Alive.

But the cow refused to get up. She lay on her side, which is a very bad thing for cows to do, and nothing we did changed her mind. There were four of us attempting to rock the poor thing onto her stomach, but she fought our efforts and even in her weakened condition was more powerful.

Suddenly she gave out a large, mournful moan and gave up the ghost. "She's gone!" the owner, my uncle, said. "Boys, she's gone!" I remember the shock in his voice.

His next order was that we should bury the cow.

That turned into several hours of hard shovel work even in the soft earth of the river valley, and darkness was well underway by the time we had finished our labor by kerosene lantern. That meant no dinner; the house was about a mile away. As the last shovelful of dirt was tamped in, my uncle arrived with the truck and told us to hurry: Dinner was waiting and the astronauts were about to walk on the Moon! The cow was now six feet under, but there were amazing events taking place 240,000 miles above us!

Back at the house, we cleaned up and ate our dinner with excitement as we watched the grainy images on the television, the ponderous voices of the news announcers telling us what was happening, the historic importance of the event, the dangers being heroically faced, and so forth.

Finally -- in my memory it seems like forever -- we saw Neil Armstrong step out on that ladder and plant his footprint on the lunar source. "A small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind!" he said. This got replayed over and over. Around the kitchen table the former burial detail now concerned itself with whether Armstrong's words were his own or some NASA public relations writer. We eventually concluded that it didn't matter now that it had gone out to everyone on Earth with a TV set. The words would forever be his.

Our scientific reverie was finally broken when my uncle asked for volunteers to stay with the newborn calf in the only safe, fenced area he thought would work: a small family cemetery a couple of hundred feet from the house. He was worried about wolves or coyotes attacking the defenseless animal.

Did I say volunteer? To this day I'm not sure how I would up with this duty, but there I went, with a flashlight and a bedroll, to ward off any beasties that might be hungry for veal. I made my bed among the headstones of relatives who, if they were aware of my presence, probably heartily concurred in its frontier wisdom. If not, they chose to remain quiet about it.

For a time I listened to the calf's occasional sad bleating for its mother, while I watched the heavens revolve above me, my mind still captivated by the potential for human space flight as I replayed the first walk on the Moon. I was engaged in one of mankind's oldest occupations, but I dreamed of someday rocketing into space to help explore the universe.

The disappointment over the years of our national unwillingness to go back to the Moon, or to farther than the Moon with human beings, has never subsided. Somewhere along the way we crossed a pivot point where it was just too scary, too dangerous, to risk human lives, and this occurred before the Challenger accident in 1986. That event only solidified the opposition to taking risks.

I do not believe we will ever go back to the moon. Or send a mission to Mars. At least, it won't be a United States mission. The national capacity for imagination has atrophied to the point where people consider themselves a cosmic success if they wind up featured on Youtube. Security and entertainment is the highest social value, which is why we can find sizable pluralities for universal health care and climate change initiatives, as long as someone on high -- meaning Washington -- is promising that "the rich" will pay for it. There isn't even a demand for the old frontier anymore. Westerns are out of style. The thought of pioneering freezes the blood of the typical American male in 2009.

The only gunfights he is interested in are on Playstation or XBox 360, and these will be against aliens on some world in space that he has no desire to actual visit.

So sad. We have turned into a nation of vicarious worshipers of culture, with lots of opinions and no actual courage to back them up.

My life has come a long way since that day 40 years ago, but there are times when I long for the sheer simplicity and wonder of it; when the possibilities of the future were seemingly limitless and I actually thought that the rest of my countrymen cared about something other than themselves.

Labels: ,

Let Wild Horses Have Safe Sex

You'll be thrilled to know that the House of Representatives passed HR 1018, the "Restore Our American Mustangs Act" which provides $700 million to the Bureau of Interior to conduct a horse census every two years of the wild mustangs and burros of the American West.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. It provides for "enhanced" contraception so that these animals won't restore themselves too wildly.

We couldn't let Nature take its course now, could we?

And you get to pay for it.


Getting Taxed Out the Butt

To paraphrase Harrison Ford in "The Mosquito Coast":

"Toilet paper is civilization."

Of course, he said "ice" and he made a good case for it, but I think affordable and plentiful toilet paper could just as easily qualify.

Others disagree, and if they prevail, you could well be taxed out the butt. Literally.
Someone inside EPA has brought to my attention how Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer has proposed legislation calling on a federal agency to define toilet paper.

Really. It says it right in the bill, the "Water Resources Protection Act" (I know, I know — you were expecting it to be called the Protecting Infrastructure and Sewer Systems Act):


‘(b) WATER DISPOSAL PRODUCT. — For purposes of this subchapter —

(4) TOILET TISSUE. — The term ‘toilet tissue’ means toilet tissue, as determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary."

No, it's not as silly as it sounds. It's sillier.

The rulemaking to define what rises to the level of a bottom-wipe is in the name of a good cause: to tax the stuff. The current band of feds don't think you've paid enough tax — this has been established ad nauseum — and now want a dedicated revenue, er, stream, to pay to replace corroded pipes and overburdened sewer sytems nationwide.
Believe it or not, Rep. Blumenauer is proposing a 3 percent excise tax on toilet paper, toothpaste, cosmetics and cooking oil because all of this stuff eventually goes down the drainpipe.

You may be wondering where in the U.S. Constitution it provides that the federal government worry about such things, but then you would be less focused on the ass-end of American life than certain congressmen.

Labels: ,