Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Palin vs. the elitists

A year after the presidential election and David Letterman is still attacking Sarah Palin every night. She’s neither a candidate nor an elected official. He isn’t the only one attacking her; every elitist with access to the public ear is doing the same thing. Not all the attackers are Democrats; there are a number of elitist Republicans are equally guilty, though perhaps less vociferously.

This latest outpouring of interest in Gov. Palin is in reaction to the release of her new book, Going Rogue: An American Life, which came out last week. As one might expect, the Associated Press sent a gaggle reporters to “Fact check” the book. According to Fox Nation: “The Associated Press is struggling to defend its decision to assign a fleet of 11 reporters to pore over the facts in Sarah Palin's best-selling memoir "Going Rogue: An American Life." The news agency was thrown on the defensive after critics -- including Palin herself -- charged she was being singled out for investigation when the AP savaged her book as inaccurate. They noted that President Obama, whose two best-selling memoirs helped propel him to national fame, didn't receive any fact-checking. Last week, the AP sent news organizations a story headlined "Fact check: Palin's book goes wrong on some facts," citing several discrepancies in accounts of her tenure as governor of Alaska and other matters. It carried one byline and listed 10 other writers who contributed to it.”

For Democrats and their supporters in the media, the reason behind the attacks is simple; Palin connects with ordinary people all across the country. Her popularity makes her a political threat and therefore must be destroyed. Their tactic is to keep up their ridicule and derision day after day until she is no longer taken seriously by anyone. This is more or less the same tactic that they used on Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes and Newt Gingrich.

For elitist Republicans, Palin isn’t from the right social and economic class. Her family doesn’t have money, she didn’t attend the right college, doesn’t speak with the proper east or west coast accent, she hunts moose and goes to the wrong church.

You may remember when George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Democrats and elitist Republics both went into frenzy. While I think she would have made an adequate justice, the elitists went berserk because she didn’t go to Harvard, Yale or Princeton. She went to SMU! Conservative columnist Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a man whose opinion I usually respect, contended that the Supreme Court is an elite institution, and thereby requires a education from an elite university. Krauthammer’s nose tends to point upward on a number of matters.

While America is supposed to be a country without classes, castes or royalty, there has always been those who presume themselves to be on a higher plain than everyone else due to wealth, education, and special abilities--or for no particular reason at all other than their egos. They are elitists and they believe it is their destiny to tell everyone else what to do. They are the snobs who think that Sarah Palin is unworthy of high office for no other reason than she isn’t one of them. That, to me, is a problem.

For too long the elitists have been calling the shots. They are deciding what is proper, who should be running things and who should not. They, with their wealth and pseudo-superior educations are out of touch with the ordinary every day folks who make up the vast majority of this country. I’m all for letting Sarah Palin and those like her to run the government--people who aren’t career politicians and who perpetuate thems
elves in office by taking from the productive and give to the idle in exchange for votes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

There’s been no shortage of comments this week on the latest government giveaway, the so-called “Cash for Clunkers” program. Essentially, if you have a car that meets the government’s specifications, they will give you between $3500 and $4500 credit on a new car that meets the government’s specifications. The name of the program is somewhat of a misnomer. There is no actual cash and your car isn‘t necessarily a clunker. The plan is to stimulate the economy and help prop up the automobile industry, plus it’s supposed to “save the planet” by getting your low gas mileage vehicle off the road and into the junk yard, while putting you into an Obama approved piece of tin that gets better gas mileage and squashes nicely into a compact wad in case of an accident with a Volkswagen.

Originally, the Democrats wanted a mere $4 billion for this plan, but had to settle for a measly $1 billion. One could argue that this scheme has been a success because it was supposed to last into November. However, they blew through the billion dollars in six days. Presently they want another $2 billion to keep the program going—maybe for another two weeks.

Critics say it isn’t really much of a success since the money the government is giving away belongs to taxpayers—that’s you and me. If I was in the market for a new car, and I wanted a tiny car, then I might consider taking advantage of the program. As it is, I’ll keep my Dodge Magnum. I need something that will haul me, the wife, my music keyboard and amplifier.

The main complaint about the program is that the trade-ins we are paying $4500 for are being destroyed. The engines are being disabled and the bodies are being crushed. While this gets these nasty old gas guzzlers off the road, it also deprives the used car market of serviceable vehicles that poorer folks or those with insufficiently good credit who can’t afford a new car can buy. Some people can never afford a new car.

Kevin McCullough wrote in Town Hall Daily, “Imagine the government making an estimable promise of enormous proportion. Imagine the government pledging a promise so big that it would, in fact, as they would argue, actually save an entire sector of the economy. Imagine in doing so, that the same government promises blind fairness, trust, and integrity in the process. Imagine the government assuming the significant portion of funding such a program off of the hard sweat labor you and I commit to everyday. Imagine this program pledging complete utopia in helping to restore a struggling economy, even if the sector it was addressing was a largely insignificant part of the economy. And imagine if, after promising this program would last for a long period of time, it ran out of actual cash in about 1/16th of the time they pledged it would work.

Now imagine if that program dealt with something as serious and intricate to the daily lives of Americans as the provision of our health care
Oh, but not to worry, health care is still a ways off. No, we're talking about a program that uses our tax dollars to purchase cars that can not be resold, and that no one will drive, but instead be taken directly to the nearest junk yard and crushed.”

Another thing that bothers me is that the funds for this giveaway isn’t coming out of the $700 or so billion so-called stimulus package, which the administration is still sitting on. This is new money—money we don’t have. It is either being borrowed from China or being printed. It would make more sense to finance this program from the money already allocated for the purpose of stimulating the economy—money they aren’t planning to spend until just before the next election. Moreover, it would be better for the economy overall if these kinds of giveaways included a much wider segment of the population. It would be just fine if they gave my part of my tax money to me and let me spend it on something I want.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Gates incident

Normally I wouldn’t comment on a subject that concerns racial matters. Political correctness frowns on such things in public discourse. However, since president Obama has chosen to insert himself into the fray, I may as well add my two cents. Besides, there hasn’t been much of anything else in the national news this past week. I’m referring to the Gates incident. You’ve probably heard about it.

A Harvard professor, a black man, was arrested outside his home. Henry Louis “Skip“ Gates Jr. returned from a trip and couldn’t get into his house in Cambridge, Mass. --so he broke in. Some woman saw him and called the police, reporting a possible burglary. The lead officer approached Gates, according to the police report Sgt. James Crowley, asked the professor to step outside. Gates refused to do so and demanded to see the cop's ID. That got things off to a bad start. Crowley asked Gates for his ID, and the professor reportedly gave the cop an earful of abuse. After it was established that Gates owned the house, he continued to verbally abuse the officer and accuse him of racism and racial profiling. It isn’t clear what was said after that but he said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America." At some point the cop had heard enough and arrested Gates for disorderly conduct. Officers said they tried to calm down Gates, who responded: "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.

Opinions as to what should have happen seem to be divided between black and white, liberal and conservative, and those who know something about the police and those who don’t. I’m certain that if I was breaking into my own house and a cop showed up and asked for my ID, I would produce it at once, explain why I was breaking in, and then thank him for protecting my property. After all, he probably wouldn’t know me. Sassing him would be the last thing I, or anyone with his head screwed on would do. Of course, I’m not a big shot like professor Gates, who is clearly overly proud of himself. The Gates matter will be eventually settled by local politics.

That should have been the end of it, but at the end of president Obama’s last press conference—that’s when he commandeered all television networks to pitch his government takeover of the medical industry, he was asked about the Gates incident. As chief arbiter of all things black, he weighed in on the matter and made a number of remarks that blew the episode way out of proportion to its actual importance.

Here’s what the president said, “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they [sic] were in their own home; and, No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

Let’s examine his remarks. “No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry.” Who is us? Does that mean everyone or just black people? Most of us would never get into a situation like that because most people who keep their egos under control would never challenge a police officer for doing his job. “No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they [sic] were in their own home.” Gates wasn’t arrested for being in his own home, he was arrested for loud and vociferous language and creating a breach of the peace. “No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.” He is talking about racial profiling, which incidentally, I think is good police work. It has nothing to do with the Gates incident. The cop was answering a call, not patrolling and stopping black and brown people.

The president doesn’t seem to understand the limits of his job—he isn’t king. This clearly isn’t a presidential matter. If he wants to comment in private, that’s fine, but to go on national television and condemn a small police department for doing its job is clearly wrong. Perhaps he should take a course on presidential decorum.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gitmo prisoners sent to Bermuda

After announcing in his first week in office that he was closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, president Obama was faced with the reality of not having a plan for the inmates once he fulfilled his promise. He hinted that he might bring the terrorists to the United States and house them in US prisons or perhaps try them in American criminal courts alongside common criminals, thieves and liquor store stick-up artists. This brought such a public outcry that he shelved that idea and went looking for other places to put them. It was announced a few days ago that he had found new homes for several Chinese Uighurs in Bermuda, a self-governing British overseas territory. Obama said that these men were no longer considered a threat and the island of Bermuda had agreed to take 4 of them. That’s because US lawmakers cut off funds to resettle them in the United States, saying they could pose a risk.

The four men, who were captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2001 claimed that they were all innocent itinerant workers who were wrongly turned in by bounty hunters. That is the official line that the Obama administration is taking. However, it was reported in The Weekly Standard, that the men weren’t quite what they claim. Thomas Joscelyn wrote on June 11:

“All four of them are members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (otherwise known as the Turkistan Islamic Party). The ETIM/TIP is a U.S. and UN designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda and has attacked civilians in China, as well as reportedly plotted against other targets elsewhere, including the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan. According to the State Department, ETIM/TIP members have also fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And last year the organization threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China.

The four Uighurs attempted to deny any relationship with the ETIM/TIP, the Taliban, and al Qaeda during their CSRTs. But their denials are not credible. In the context of their denials they made important admissions. For example, all four of the Uighurs admitted during their Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) at Gitmo that they received training in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. And all four of them received this training at an ETIM/TIP terrorist training facility in Tora Bora, a key area once controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Three of the four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda also admitted that they had firsthand ties to senior terrorists such as Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq – the leaders of the ETIM/TIP. Haq was recently designated an al Qaeda terrorist by the Obama administration’s Treasury Department, which noted that he is also a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura council. Mahsum was killed in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in northern Pakistan in 2003.”

Oh well, if the Bermuda Prime Minister had known the truth, he might not have agreed to take the men while keeping the now furious British government in the dark about the negotiations.

Presently the men are staying in a first class holiday resort hotel and the American taxpayers are picking up the tab. I’m wondering if I could get such a deal. I’ve always wanted to visit Bermuda. Maybe if I grew a bushy chin beard and wore a turban…

Other Uighurs have been sent to the Pacific island of Palau. It’s located about one thousand miles SE of Manila and 800 miles SW of Guam. It’s been reported that the tiny island nation will be getting $200 million from the US government as part of the deal. Isn’t it nice to have unlimited funds with which to solve pesky problems?

The U.S. would not send the Uighurs back to China, where they came from, for fear they will be tortured or executed. Beijing says Uighur insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in China's far west and wants those held at Guantanamo to be returned to China. I don’t suppose China is buying their claims of being merely innocents who were arrested while just walking along minding their own business.

Italy has agreed to accept three detainees from Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama said Monday, following a visit by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. I suppose that’s some sort of progress, but it seems a little slow. How many presidents, prime ministers and friendly dictators will Obama have to meet with before he finds countries that will take the rest of them? There are still over 200 to go and he hasn’t even started trying to fob off the really bad ones.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The new Czarist

By my count, President Obama has appointed about 20 Czars in his five months in office. Obama’s czars report directly to him. These people are supernumerary to the usual make up of a presidential administration and assigned to oversee a variety of agencies that already exist within the government beauracracy.

Previous presidents have had one or two czars, but haven’t gone hog wild with them like this guy. Unlike cabinet officers, they are neither required to be approved by the Senate nor accountable to anyone but the president.

So far, Obama has appointed a drug czar, a U.S. border czar, an urban czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar, an Iran czar, a Middle East czar, a czar for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Infotech czar, a Faith-based czar, a Health reform czar, TARP czar, a Non-proliferation czar, a Guantanamo closure czar, a Great Lakes czar and is planning to anoint a pay czar in the near future. Obama has more czars than Russia ever had. I expect there’ll be a Misery Czar before long to enforce a uniform sharing of fairness--and misery. This president is all about what he reckons is "fair."

Senator Robert Byrd (born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.), a crusty old partisan who usually defends the most indefensible activities of his fellow Democrats, isn’t at all happy with the new czar system. In a letter to Obama he wrote, “The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances.” Byrd quoted from a House study from the Watergate era regarding Nixon appointees, which stated:

"Whatever their other duties and roles, each of these individuals, as White House personnel, held a high degree of political immunity from accounting for their activities before Congressional Committees. The shadow of executive privilege beclouded normal accountability arrangements." Most people know that Senator Byrd was an Exalted Cyclops or something like that in the KKK before getting into national politics. It’s possible that his previous affiliation may have something to do with his criticism of the dark one in chief.

Most of the other Democrats are saying little and nodding their heads in the affirmative direction lest they say something that displeases our new super-czar lest they appear to disagree with his sweeping changes in government. Perhaps they fear a new czar will be appointed to keep track of wavering Democrats that aren’t toeing the mark.

The so-called Mainstream Media are mostly quiet about all these czars. To find critics of czarmania, one must either go to the Fox News Channel or the Internet where there are plenty of political pundits that owe no loyalty to the current administration.

Writing about a pay czar in the Fox Forum, Dan Gainor, VP for the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture said, “In “Fiddler on the Roof,” the hero Tevye sang of how he wished he were wealthy. “If I Were a Rich Man” became a Broadway and movie favorite as a catchy tune and even catchier sentiment. As the struggling Russian peasant explained, “It’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either.”

No, today, the shame is being rich, and President Obama seems determined to bestow the ‘honor’ of poverty on as many as possible. Forget the horrendous tax-and-spend policies that gradually impoverish us all. Obama’s new target is a direct one – the evil, greedy CEO. To do so, he is set to appoint Kenneth Feinberg as his new ‘Pay Czar’….. The New York Times portrayed it as a new offensive against CEOs earning more than Obama likes, saying the administration is taking action as ‘part of a broad set of regulations on executive compensation expected to be announced by the administration as early as this week.’”

Having people roaming around and meddling with various aspects of government, people with allegiance only to the president, reminds me a little of totalitarian regimes. Since the Obama administration seems to have an affinity for Russian job titles, it would be more truthful if these czars were renamed commissars.

This country was set up as a way to escape the tyranny of kings and dictators. The plan balanced power between three branches of government. This we call checks and balances. Czars are not part of the arrangement. Combining all this power into the oval office appears to be bringing us dangerously close to an all powerful ruler, rather than a leader. None of his former colleagues in congress have the courage to stand up to this patent power grab.

As a blogger who calls himself “The Historian” wrote in “The Real World” the other day, “Here is the ugly truth: Barack Obama is nobody special. He is proving to be a self-serving, self-absorbed elitist who very mistakenly believes he knows better than the rest of us. But his ongoing accumulation of power is just another example of his Chicago "mob rule" mindset. The wild eyed far left screamed about this idea during the Bush years. They are silent on the matter today.

If this nation is not careful, all those little czars will eventually lead to tyranny.” I, for one, am more than a little uneasy about what appears to be too much power being accumulated by one man, too fast. Moreover, I'm concern about what he intends to do with all this power.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Follow the money

It’s been a few weeks since the country was in an uproar over bonuses paid to AIG executives after company had received of a large chunk of taxpayer’s money. It was eventually disclosed that the clause put into the agreement with AIG that authorized the bonuses was put there by Senator Chris Dodd (D) CT. He initially denied being the culprit until it was proven. Then he owned up, meaning he had been caught in a lie, but claimed that he had been ordered to do so by the White House. Naturally, the White House denied it. While I’m sure it was a mere coincidence, AIG gave Senator Dodd $103,100 in campaign donations. An even bigger coincidence is that AIG also gave then Senator Obama $100,332. These things happen all the time. Politicians receive large campaign donations from certain donors and then something good happens to the donors as a result of federal legislation or other action. Is it magic, or is it something else? While I certainly wouldn’t intentionally besmudge the escutcheons of our honorable elected officials, it would seem that such things happen all too often to be just chance.

Another seemingly strange thing that happens to many long-term elected officials in Washington is that they arrive with very little money and retire wealthy. I think many, if not most, get into it thinking they can make a difference. But once in office, they become addicted to the power. Almost any politician that makes it to the national level can become very wealthy if so inclined—and they are.

In a March 2008 Reuters News Agency article, Kevin Drawbaugh wrote, “The personal wealth of members of the U.S. Congress has soared in recent years, leaving lawmakers on average far more well-to-do than most Americans as of 2006, said a study on Thursday.
The median net worth of senators was estimated at $1.7 million and House of Representatives members at $675,000, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington watchdog group that monitors the influence of money on government.
The center released a report saying that until the recent economic slowdown, lawmakers ‘enjoyed an extraordinary run in their personal investments and other finances.’
The report said, ‘Members of Congress, who are now paid about $169,000 annually, saw their net worths soar 84 percent from 2004 to 2006, on average.
They have millions of dollars invested in politically influential industries that they also regulate," such as real estate, banking, pharmaceuticals and energy, the center said.’"

Although it will never happen, it would be a good idea to require elected members of congress and former elected officials serving in the current administration to dress in uniforms similar to NASCAR race car drivers. Like racers with patches of their sponsors sewn all over their fire suits, the politicians would have to display patches showing logos of their major campaign contributors. Once those we have entrusted to run the country are suitably credentialed, it would become easier to understand that the reason why certain new laws seem to benefit certain companies is neither magic nor coincidence. It would be easier to follow the money.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness--ZZzzzzzzz

I don’t like basketball. While I’m not disparaging anyone who does, to me it’s boring. The image of seven footers loping from one end of the court to the other, dropping the ball into the net then repeating the sequence all night puts me to sleep. The yearly practice of devoting nine hours a day to basketball games for days on end, omitting the six and ten o’clock news and all programs in between, gets me riled to some degree. If you are a big basketball fan, imagine that the only thing on the sports channels was eight hours of tiddlywinks or maybe back to back biographies of noted bird watchers. You’d probably be looking for something else to do.

This annual ritual they call March Madness on CBS kicked off yesterday afternoon. I had forgotten about it until I turned to the Channel 12 news at six and found no news but a basketball game instead. That wasn’t too bad; I watched the news on Channel 10. After that I watched O’Reilly on Fox News then an old documentary about noodlin’ for catfish on PBS. I figured the ball games would have been over by eight because I wanted to watch CSI. Nope, more basketball. A check again at nine, and what do you know, more BBall.
At ten, they were still at it. I usually watch Leno at 10:30, but Obama was on and I've had about as much of his face and his speechfying as I can take. So I listened to a radio episode of Dragnet, first recorded in 1948. It was the best entertainment of the night.
Tonight promises more of the same, so it’ll either be old radio programs or one of the 8 DVDs of English murder mysteries that I got for Christmas.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Tenth Amendment movement

Amendment IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution are two of the least well-known and perhaps the two most ignored by the federal government—particularly the tenth. The reason for these amendments goes back to the beginning of our republic. The founding fathers believed in a balance between state and federal power and didn’t want a federal government that dictated to the states. James Madison, one of the driving forces behind the Constitution, wrote "The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people." Thomas Jefferson said that the states are not "subordinate" to the national government, but rather the two are "coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government." Alexander Hamilton wrote that ‘this balance between the national and state governments forms a double security to the people. If one [government] encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from over-passing their constitutional limits by [the] certain [rivalry] which will ever subsist between them.’”
To a large degree, states' sovereignty has been eroded by the federal government, particularly during and since the FDR administration. Whether by giving money with strings attached or by unfunded mandates, Washington has been calling the tune for decades. State governments are in continual need of money to fund their various projects and have mostly surrendered their sovereignty in order to get “free money.” Of course there’s no such thing. There is always a price to be paid where Washington is concerned. Some of you may recall the controversy in Texas forty something years ago over “federal aid to education.” In the end, the schools got the money and the federal government started dictating how to run the schools.

In recent years, there have been moves by several states to reassert their sovereignty and halt the expansion of federal government power. Just lately, since the inauguration of the Obama administration, a number of other states have joined in the effort; these moves are being called “The Tenth Amendment Movement.”
Dave Nalle, of The Tenth Amendment Center writes, “The founding fathers believed in a balance between state and federal power. This state sovereignty movement clearly arises from the belief that the balance of power has tilted too far and for too long in the direction of the federal government and that it’s time to restore that close balance.
The emergence of this movement is a hopeful sign of the people asserting their rights and the rights of the states and finally crying ‘enough’ to runaway government. With the threat of increasingly out of control federal spending, some of these sovereignty bills may stand a fair chance of passage in the coming year.”
As A.W.R. Hawkins wrote recently, “Our rights as citizens are under assault by an administration of leftist ideologues with an insatiable appetite for power. There is little difference between them and the appeasement-drunken, government-expanding leftists in Lyndon Baines Johnson’s administration of whom Ronald Reagan said in 1964, “Inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government…and freedom is close to slipping from our grip.”
Even if the resolutions by all the states involved are adopted, it remains to be seen what good, if any, it will do. The new administration has so far indicated that it intends to overturn the American system of government and change it into a European style welfare state. That’s Change you can believe in.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Forms drive me crazy

Seems like everything I want to do on the internet requires me to “register.” I know that all they really want is my email address so they can send me spam and try to get me to buy something. Of course I delete their spam without a glance. Getting registered has turned into a big pain in the ass. The problems are caused by the programmers who create the electronic forms.

This morning I got an email from a guy who makes cartoons and writes songs. He contacted all the serious music critics he knew and wanted us to listen to his new song, compare it with other songs entered in a competition and vote for his song. The title of his composition is “Doo Doo Man.” It was just as good as the other entries, so I attempted to give him my vote.

This afternoon I attempted to register my new GPS receiver with Garmin. Like the song competition, the registration turned into more of an ordeal than I was prepared to endure.

Step one is to enter a user name, make up a password and re-type it to confirm it. Then it wants my email address, my zip code, the year I was born and my sex. Then it wants me to type in the characters in a box. After all that, I click on Enter and it sits there for a while. Finally it gives me a list of errors I have committed. User name must be longer than four characters. My password doesn’t agree with the confirmation. It clears the entry boxes and I have to do it all over again. After re-entering all the data it says that my username is already in use. It shouldn’t matter so long as the user name and the password are correct. All I can think of for a unique password is something akin to screwyoucharlie with a password just as rude, but by then I’m completely fed up with the whole exercise. So I cuss the computer and click the X to leave that website. I’d send them an email pointing out my displeasure but that would probably require that I register first. There ought to be some sort of rules for friendly electronic form design that doesn’t drive the user up the wall.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ingrate survivors sue USAir

Two weeks ago everyone was talking about the USAir ditching into the Hudson River, which was caused when a gaggle of Canadian geese were ingested into the aircraft’s two engines. There were no fatalities and only one passenger was seriously injured. The pilot’s skill and a lot of luck have been credited with the survival of the passengers and crew.

As a gesture of goodwill, USAir also gave the passengers $5000 to compensate them for their inconvenience, loss of luggage and personal items as well as giving them “Chairman’s Preferred” status, which usually requires earning 100,000 qualifying miles—for a year. This entitles customers to a number of perks, including priority check-in and boarding, priority security lanes, and the head of the line on standby seats. They also refunded the passengers ticket price for the ill-fated flight and their insurance carrier promised to cover any property losses exceeding $5000. This sounds more than fair to me. They could have been fish food, but instead they got an invigorating bath, a free scenic boat ride and something to tell their grandkids.
But as one might expect, a few passengers weren’t satisfied and decided to sue the airline. One of them told a reporter, “I just want to be made whole.” Apparently his idea of being made whole is being made rich. While most people would be grateful just for getting out alive and in fact, whole; there are a few like this guy who see the accident as an opportunity to win the litigation lotto.

As seems to be part of American culture these days, everything that happens is seen as someone else’s fault and a chance, with the help of the right scumbag lawyer, for a big pay off—greed pure and simple. The concept of ordinary bad luck has gone out of fashion. This is no shortage of law firms that specialize in suing railroads, cruise ships and airlines.

I don’t have anything against lawyers. I have several friends who are attorneys and my daddy practiced law for 64 years. I know for a fact that my old man wouldn’t have taken a case like this. The lawyers I know aren’t greedy or sorry enough for this kind of litigation-most of them anyway.

It isn’t as if this particular accident was the airline’s fault. Nothing vital fell off the airplane, there was no apparent pilot error nor has the incident been tied to any terrorist activity. It’s clear that USAir did everything right and the survivors should be kissing the pilot’s shoes, not trying to shake down the airline. I suppose the geese could be sued—or maybe Canada, since they were Canadian Geese. It’s plain to me that the airline is blameless. That doesn’t mean they will win though. If a judge doesn’t toss the case out of court and warn the lawyer against frivolous litigation; if it gets to a jury the verdict might well go to the plaintiff. Juries are unpredictable and all too many of them these days are only too happy to give away copious amounts of other people’s money no matter what the evidence. Whatever happened to gratitude?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama’d out and he has yet to ascend the throne

Back when Clinton was elected, I don’t think I had grown weary of him before he even took office. It took at least a month before I discovered that he wasn’t to be believed under any circumstances. Shortly thereafter, I grew to truly loathe him and that power hungry harridan he married.
With Obama it’s somewhat different. I don’t particularly dislike him. I’m simply convinced that he doesn’t know the first thing about running the country and very little about the country outside of Cook County Illinois. We know too little about him, which I think is intentional and the majority of the people don’t seem to care. They may rue the day, but maybe not. Some of them still think Clinton was the best president in history. As a blogger said yesterday, “One thing we’ve learned about Obama is that he is good at spending money to make himself look good…He’ll surely rue the day he tried to equate himself with these statesmen. Now the con-man is parading around pretending to be Abraham Lincoln. Is there no limit to his debauchery?”
I’m sick of hearing his name and looking at him on TV. Even the Fox News Channel, which the liberal Left claim is biased and tell nothing but lies, are spending all their time building up to Tuesday. My favorite program, Fox News Watch, was pre-empted Saturday in order to show the preparations for the inauguration and a discussion of Obama’s train trip from Chicago to DC just like Abe Lincoln did before there were cars, buses or airplanes. I expect I’ll be even sicker of this guy before it’s all over.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How cold is it? Flint Michigan's 95-year-old record low falls as 19 below zero hits city
by David Harris The Flint Journal

Bone-chilling temperatures settle over East
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Bone-chilling cold settled in Thursday from the Midwest to the Northeast Thursday, bringing teeth-chattering misery with temperatures that sank as low as 47 below zero.

Record snowfall, plunging temperatures hit the area
La Grange, IL -
A new record was set Wednesday when Chicago had its ninth consecutive day of measurable snowfall, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record was eight consecutive days set from Dec. 13 to 20, 1973.Snowfall records in Chicago date back to 1884.

Waxman promises quick action on climate
WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of a key House committee said Thursday he will move "quickly and decisively" to push legislation curbing
greenhouse gases with a goal of passing climate legislation out of his committee before Memorial Day.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., opening the new Congress' first hearing on the threats from global warming, said inaction on the climate issue is causing uncertainties that make it more difficult to emerge from the recession.

If it gets any hotter, we may freeze to death.

How much longer are people going to swallow this stuff? Even more to the point, how much is this global warming nonsense going to cost us before everyone catches on that it’s a scam? It’s clear that the Democrats want to institute a “cap and trade” system by which industry will be charged a “fee” for the CO2 emitted by their manufacturing processes, payable of course to the US treasury. It’s just another tax that they will attempt to justify in the name of saving the planet.

A more satisfying control on CO2 would be to limit Democrat politicians to exhaling once an hour. Of course we couldn’t rely on merely their word that they would control their breathing. A better solution would be a device placed over their nose and mouth that only opened on the hour for a period of perhaps ten seconds.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The “Stimulus” Plan

This economic stimulus plan that the “Sitter in the Office of the President Elect” is talking about requires the immediate approval of up to a trillion dollars of taxpayer’s money to stimulate the economy. He says there’s no time to waste. He wants the money right now. The country, we’re assured, depends upon it. The thinking, if in fact any thinking has been actually gone into this scheme, is that giving out all this money is going to get the economy going again and everything will once more be peachy. I have serious doubts.

Among the targets of this stimulus money are schools. This is being called “investing in education.” Investing is a Democrat word for Spending that Bill Clinton invented. Another way the economy is to be stimulated is the modernization of government buildings. Schools can always use more money—indeed, I’ve never seen a school administration that ever has as much money as it wants, but even if the schools were turning out a young Einstein in every third graduate, it would do nothing toward fixing the economy. The same goes for adding insulation and hanging solar panels atop government edifices.

Another part of his plan is to double U.S. production of alternative energy in three years, but with no details. This is vague enough to mean almost anything, but so far it is not possible to see how this spending is going to revive the economy.

He has pledged to go to work on the nation’s infrastructure, specifically roads and bridges. Well, to get someone else to perform any actual work. He talks about creating three or four million new jobs. Everyone is in favor of new roads and bridges, but I can’t see that as doing anything for the economy either. Who is he going to get to do the work? He will have to open the southern border to get the workers to handle the shovels and wheelbarrows. The next time you pass a highway construction crew, take note of who is doing the manual labor. Is he talking about re-establishing the CCC and WPA from the FDR era? He hasn’t said.

And what he talks most about is 300 billion dollars in tax cuts. From what he’s said so far, he’s promised to send government checks to the middle class. If you remember, President Bush sent out checks to the public in a “stimulus package” back in the spring of last year. Did that get the economy going? Did that solve the problem with the economy? If you’re like me, you probably spent the money and can’t remember what you bought with it. I think I spent most of it at the gas station. A large part of the Obama plan is to also send tax rebate checks to people who don’t pay taxes. Some rightly call this welfare. Whatever it’s called, the fact remains that it isn’t going to stimulate the economy, though it might have a positive effect on the economy down at the liquor store.

The main problem with the economy is that there is a lack of confidence in the financial markets. Investment Banks aren’t lending money even to businesses that can pay it back. This country runs on credit and without it, the whole system ceases to function. Eventually, as it always has, the market will sort itself out and the economy will turn around without the government saddling the next couple of generations with trillions in crippling debt.

With all this money on offer, there is no shortage of city and state officials around the country rushing to Washington, like pigs heading to the feed trough, making their claims for a share of the slop. In addition, other industries are also begging for a piece of the action. Porn King Larry Flynt and "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis are asking for a $5 billion federal bailout of adult entertainment because "the economy has made America's appetite for sex go limp."
This economic stimulus plan is nothing more than political payback for Obama’s supporters and will have no lasting effect on the economy, apart from increasing the national debt. The best thing the government could do to help the economy is to cut the capital gains tax. That would encourage investment and without new investment, the economy is going to languish.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Malaysia to boycott Coca-Cola et al

“Gaza prompts boycott in Malaysia,” read the BBC Online headline. The Malaysian government, given to emotional but useless actions, wants a boycott of American goods because if US support for Israel. “More than 2,000 Muslim restaurants in Malaysia have said they would remove Coca-Cola from their menus from Friday.” It added that “the beverage company employs some 1,700 Malaysians, 60% of whom are Malay Muslims.” It would make good business sense to lay off those employees and shut down production for a while.
Former Malaysian prime minister and a certifiable idiot, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Monday, “If you stop accepting US currency, the US can't trade and can't make any money, it will become very poor and it will have to stop the production of more and more weapons in order to kill people." But it isn’t the US that is defending itself by retaliating against terrorist rocket attacks. That would be Israel. Perhaps Malaysia should boycott them and leave the US out of it.
A large portion of Malaysia’s revenue comes from US electronic manufacturing in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. These outfits might also benefit by a temporary shutdown during this boycott.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Siren Check

This morning, the first Wednesday of the month, I went to Sherman to perform my bit of volunteer work or community service. The City of Sherman has 19 emergency sirens to be used in case of a tornado. Like most cities, the sirens are tested regularly to ensure they are in working order. Sherman doesn’t have the manpower to assign city employees to monitor all sirens at the same time, so the Amateur Radio Operators (hams), of which I am one, volunteer their time for this function. It gives us something to do as most of us are retired.

Today was the first time in several months we have actually taken part in the test. The city has some software that allows them to do a simulated test. I think it essentially checks the circuits to see if they are functional. That was the way it was done last month. They don’t test unless the weather is anything but bright and clear. The theory being that people might think a tornado was bearing down if there are clouds or rain present. It sounds silly, but some folks are pretty edgy where bad storms are concerned.

I arrived at my siren, No. 5, at 0815. After a quick check to make sure my radio was working OK, I settled down with the morning paper to wait until the volunteers are checked into the net at 0840. Drat, I forgot my pen! I had to work the crossword puzzle in my head. It’s a bit more challenging that way, but the puzzle isn’t all that difficult. At 0840, the Net Control operator down in the basement of the police station at the Emergency Operations Center called the roster and I checked in. My call sign is N5COP. He calls the siren a Si-reen.

At 0900, the sirens all over town were activated. The sirens are mounted on utility poles at a height of about 60 feet. They rotate as they wail and run for about a minute. I can also hear another siren that’s located a couple of miles away. Net Control called each of us and we made our report—either it works or it doesn’t. All reported that their sirens were working. By 0903 we were through for the month. With that, I was off to the donut shop to meet with some of my ham buddies.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New hard drive

I went over to Gainesville today and bought a new external hard drive. I have 2 internal and 3 externals. One of the externals, 150gb, has given me a lot of trouble and had to be reformatted once. It got to where it couldn't find any of the files so I tossed it and bought a Western Digital 500 gb external drive for $100 at Wal-Mart.

My backup drive, another 150gb was down to 7gb of free space, so I've spent the afternoon moving files to the new drive and setting up the backup program.

I noticed that the parking lot was full of cars and the store was full of people. Apparently the economic downturn hasn't reached Gainesville yet--at least Wal-Mart.