Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow On The Streets, Blood On Their Hands

There's been a lot of press attention about the problems caused by the recent snowstorms in the Northeast, especially in New York and New Jersey.  Record snowfall (over two feet in many areas) has blocked roads and made travel almost impossible.  Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been getting a lot of praise for his hands-on approach to the "snowpocalypse"...the good publicity aided by his very active Twitter account.  Booker has been driving all over his city, personally helping dig out the city.  He's been responding personally to requests for help and even sharing a little humor.

However, the impassable streets were no laughing matter in New York City.  A newborn baby died after emergency workers took nine hours to reach the young mother in labor in the lobby of an apartment building.  A woman in Brooklyn was forced to spend the night with her dead father's body because the medical examiner's office took over twenty-four hours to respond.  There are other stories of people suffering while waiting in vain for medical help to struggle through snow-clogged streets, including a stroke victim who suffered permanently debilitating damage in the hours she waited for treatment.  It's all very, very heartbreaking.

Then, today, I read something that really made me see red:

New York Post: Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest

Yes, you're reading that headline correctly.  Apparently the soulless bastards who run the NYC Sanitation Department unions were so upset over Mayor Bloomberg's budget cuts, they engineered a city-wide attack on their own neighbors.

A City Councilman, Dan Halloran (R-Queens), said that he was visited by several "guilt-ridden" sanitation workers who confessed that their union bosses had instructed them in several different methods to drastically drag out the removal of snow from the city streets (and, of course, earn extra overtime), including keeping the plows higher than normal, requiring them to make many extra passes to remove the snow, and even skipping entire roads on their routes.  There are also reports of vandalism, drivers smashing plows and salt spreaders in an effort to further slow down the work.

Are.  You.  @#%&!  Kidding.  Me?!?!!!

So let me get this straight.  New York City, like pretty much every local government around the country, is having budget problems.  The Sanitation Department union doesn't like that some of its workers have been laid off, salaries have been frozen, and benefits reduced.  Fine.  That's what unions do - they argue for higher salaries and benefits for their workers.  Now, I personally don't think that unions actually do much for the average worker anymore and generally just enrich their own leadership and the Democratic Party, but if workers want to get together and tell the city they want more money or different working conditions, fine with me.  Viva la First Amendment, y'all.   Get some picket signs and march in front of City Hall and yell at the Mayor.  Have a grand ol' time.

But that's not what happened here.  A top-secret sabotage of city infrastructure is not a legitimate method of protest.  This was not a protest.  This was a heartless, selfish, completely evil plot to punish and embarrass Mayor Bloomberg, and the city government. 

And now, people are dead.  In one of the biggest, most modern cities in the world, ambulances couldn't reach people in need for hours.  And people are dead.  Let me say that again: because of some stupid, petty selfish union workers and their short-sighted, so-called protest, people are dead.

When the air traffic controllers went on strike in 1981, President Ronald Reagan declared that their actions were a "peril to national safety," and announced that any worker who failed to return to work within 48 hours would be fired.  Reagan followed through on his threat, the striking workers were fired and banned from federal jobs for life, and the union was dissolved.

Will Mayor Bloomberg have as much courage as Reagan did?   Let me tell you what, if I were mayor of NYC, every single sanitation department worker who participated in this "protest" would be immediately fired.  They are not paid those high wages to  vandalize their own equipment and watch the snow pile up...not to mention the fraudulent overtime pay!  And the union supervisors who concocted this evil little plot wouldn't just lose their jobs, they'd be facing criminal charges.  And, oh yeah, kiss those cushy pensions good-bye.

Charlie Crist's legacy?

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Charlie Crist has an "unfinished agenda."  Well, you can file that under: "Things That Do Not Worry Me One Bit."  

You know, I was under the impression that having an "unfinished" agenda required actually having an agenda that you could attempt to finish.  Governor Oompa-Loompa changed his positions so many times on so many key issues, I couldn't track him with a GPS and a team of bloodhound dogs.

He rode a wave of optimism into office four years ago, but Gov. Charlie Crist leaves behind a very different Florida when his term expires next week.
Crist himself has changed, too. Long stripped of his once sky high popularity and no longer a Republican, he departs as a failed U.S. Senate candidate with his political career finished for now, his future uncertain.
As Florida's 44th governor, Crist goes down in history as the first governor who could have sought re-election and didn't, an option since 1968 when the constitution was amended to allow a second term.
He chose instead to pursue ambition over a long-term policy agenda, with devastating personal consequences. As a result, his record has an unfinished feel...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Meaning of Christmas

The Charlie Brown Christmas TV special is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  I adore how adorably, unapologetically cheesy the show is...but most of all I love how perfectly and simply Charles M. Schulz expresses the "Meaning of Christmas."

Here is the famous scene where Linus helps Charlie remember "what Christmas is all about."

"Glory to God in the Highest, and Earth, Peace, and Good Will toward Men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Merry Christmas to all of you.  May you and your families have a wonderful and blessed holiday season, and a very Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ronald Reagan's 1981 Christmas Address to the Nation

As we get ready to celebrate Christmas tomorrow, I thought a look back almost twenty years ago would be interesting. Here is President Ronald Reagan's Christmas address to our country at the end of his first year in office, 1981:

"The world is full of peril as well as promise. Too many of its people, even now, live in the shadow of want and tyranny."

In addition to commemorating the holiday season, Reagan also has tough, brave words regarding the brutal oppression of the Polish people by its Soviet-backed communist government. Reagan unequivocally condemns the actions of the Polish government, and offers support to the Solidarity movement which would be the driving force in bringing freedom to Poland.

The world owes Ronald Reagan a debt of gratitude for his courageous role in bringing about the end of the Cold War. As we face today new threats from terrorists, rogue nuclear nations, and an unstable world economy, I don't know if we can wait for another "Reagan" to come along and lead us through the troubles. But I do know that I have great faith in the American people, and the power of prayer, and I believe that we will get through this.

God Bless all of you this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So Long To Ya, 2010

I love, love, love the wacky sense of humor from the guys at Jib Jab. Here's their wrap-up of 2010, as sung by Obama and Biden puppets. 

Why puppets? Well, why not puppets?! :)

Another Reason There's Peace on Earth

From the Orlando Sentinel's Dana Summers:

God Bless our military and some special prayers for those who are serving overseas during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let the Games Begin...the fight over redistricting starts today

The Census Bureau is set to release their much-anticipated 2010 data today, and the key to the 2012 elections is in these numbers.

Based on estimates, Florida is gaining at least one, probably two, new Congressional seats.  We're taking over!  This actually reflects a nationwide trend of "red" or Republican-controlled states gaining population (e.g., Texas), while "blue" or Democrat-leaning states (New York, Ohio) are losing people.  Hmmm, maybe people like lower taxes?

Anyway, the Washington Post has a helpful write-up about what to expect from the Census numbers, and here's their comments on Florida:
If Florida gains two seats and New York loses two, the Sunshine State will be tied with New York for the third-largest congressional delegation in the country. Republicans control the drawing of the map in Florida, but a ballot measure that passed this year attempts to narrow their ability to draw districts that are too politically motivated. How much they will actually be restricted is an open question, but Republicans feel good about their ability to draw the map. Population gains in southern Florida and the Tampa Bay area should allow Republicans to try and draw two GOP-friendly districts. At the same time, nothing is for certain here, and we could be headed for a long legal battle either way.
My money's on a long legal battle.  There is just too much at stake.  Fortunately, the last election left the Governor's Mansion, the entire Cabinet, and the vast majority of the Legislature in Republican control.  The Democrats have been grasping desperately on to the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 - pretty much their only victory in Florida last month - and have already been articulating plans to use those amendments as a weapon to attempt to gain more seats.

The Democrats' big problem, of course, is that redistricting won't help them with the statewide races.  Draw districts any old way you want, and Rick Scott is still our governor.

One thing redistricting will affect is our Congressional districts, especially if we add two seats.  So, coupled with the effects of Amendments 5 and 6, we will most likely break up Corrine Brown's gerrymandered trainwreck of a district:

In red: Florida's 3rd Congressional District.  Indefensible by everyone except for Corrine Brown and her daughter's lobbying clients.

Now, since the Republicans control the Governor's Mansion, the Cabinet, and the Legislature (man, I just love saying that!), they have nearly total control over the redistricting process.  When I was little, I knew another little girl who got a shiny new dollhouse and she would not let anyone else play with, or even touch, that dollhouse.  Well, with redistricting, the Republicans have the dollhouse and the Democrats don't get to play. 

It's MY dollhouse and no, you can't touch it.
You're lucky I'm even letting you look at it.
Another interesting wrinkle is the date by which Florida's redistricting process is supposed to wrap up.  According to a liberal site, the Florida Progressive Coalition Blog, Florida's deadline for redistricting is the latest in the country:
As previously reported Florida’s deadline for redistricting is June 18, 2012. With an August primary, this is nothing more than an incumbent (and Republican) protection racket, since it makes it almost impossible for challengers or underfunded candidates to know what their district is in time to mount a significant campaign for the 2012 elections.
The author, Kenneth Quinnell, has helpfully looked up the redistricting deadlines for other states, which you can see here.  What do you think?  Do you think Florida's deadline for finishing redistricting is too late?  Do you think the lawsuits will even be done by then?  And, let's go ahead and start the madness with speculating who might be running for those new Congressional seats in 2012!

UPDATED: As expected, Florida is indeed gaining TWO Congressional seatsSee a map here of which states are gaining and losing.

History of the Modern World in Four Minutes

Here's an interesting way to look at history.  The guy who made this video is a British statistics professor, and they took figures from the past two hundred years for life expectancy and annual income for the countries of the world, and then tracked them over time:

"Which political system is responsible for the inventiveness and productivity that has led to such dramatic positive changes in worldwide health and wealth?"
Yep.  It's pretty obvious when you watch the history of the entire world that capitalism and democracy send the little dots to the top right quicker...I mean, bring health and prosperity to their people quicker and more consistently.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

A monkey is running for mayor of Tampa

Tampa is electing a new mayor on March 1st.  This year's slate of candidates includes a very small and feisty member of the primate family:

Yeah.  A monkey is running for mayor.  Well, maybe.  According to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, the monkey has not yet filed candidate paperwork yet...and presumably would not be officially eligible since I'm pretty sure the monkey isn't a registered voter (unless ACORN already helped him out).

The Monkey has a blog, he's on Facebook and Twitter, and he's got a YouTube ad:

Oh, Monkey issued a press release too.  Read it here.

(Hat tip to Saint Petersblog, where I first noticed this exciting new campaign...and a special shout out to Jordan Raynor, who is the brains behind all this.)

I'm very interested to see how many write-in votes the Monkey gets.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Internet Christmas Story

Here's a fun, modern take on the story of the Nativity...what would happen if Joseph had Facebook and the Three Wise Men were on Twitter...

OMG.  It turns out you can get frankincense and myrrh on Amazon!  Aspiring Magi, check this out...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Therefore Beware This Party of Treason"

This guy knew how to get the last word...

In Attica, Kansas, there is a grave for a man named Nathaniel Grisby, who died in 1890.  Grisby had been a childhood friend of Abraham Lincoln, and Grisby's brother Aaron married Lincoln's sister Sarah.  Grisby supported his friend's presidential campaign, and enlisted in the Union Army along with four of his sons, one of whom died in the war.  When he heard the news that President Lincoln had been assassinated, he was so upset that he fell down in a faint.

When he was on his deathbed, Grisby made a special request to one of his sons, to put a specific message on his gravestone, to express his passionate feelings about who he felt was responsible for the War Between the States, the loss of many family and friends who had died in the fighting, and of course, the death of his friend Lincoln.

 This was the result:

 A close-up of the inscription:

"[A]ll the misfortunes of our nation has come to it through this so called party therefore beware this party of treason."  Zing!  If Nathaniel Grisby were alive today, does anyone doubt that he'd have a talk radio show?

Friday, December 17, 2010

McCollum: Obamacare is "the wrong way to reform health care"

Here's a great op-ed in today's Washington Post, written by Attorney General Bill McCollum:

...Health-care reform is critical - but it should not come at the expense of our citizens' individual rights nor by jeopardizing the role of the states in our system of federalism. 
Congress has limited, enumerated powers under the Constitution and cannot make law beyond those specific powers. All powers not specifically granted to Congress by the Constitution are left for the states, which have equal sovereignty to make their own laws. 
When Congress has invoked the commerce clause in the past, it has regulated only those individuals who voluntarily engaged in commercial activities. This law would compel the purchase of insurance and fine those who do not comply. If Congress has the power to force Americans to buy goods and services, where is the limit?
...The stakes could not be higher: ObamaCare is public policy at its worst, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. We can and should support a health-care overhaul; it is up to our leaders in Congress to both do those reforms and protect the Constitution. 
Here's McCollum discussing the health care litigation and Thursday's oral arguments with Greta Van Susteren last night:

I don't know about you, but I watch McCollum taking names and kicking you-know-what with this health care litigation, and I can't help but feel a bit sad, and wonder "what might have been."  If Charlie Crist hadn't made his ego-driven leap at the U.S. Senate, and had instead run for a second term as Governor, then McCollum would have most likely also run for re-election as Attorney General.  Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Pam Bondi, but in a few weeks, we are going to lose an excellent AG and champion for the people of Florida.

Go Ahead and Cry

Here's a great post from a blogger friend of mine - another conservative Southern gal named Sarah (awesome, right?), about the media obsession with Speaker-elect John Boehner's tears during recent interviews:

...I don’t care if John Boehner tears up when he’s talking to Lesley Stahl (I’d cry if I had to spend that much time with a CBS reporter, too) and I don’t care if he gets a little misty when he watches Bambi. I just want someone – anyone – in Congress to do his or her damn job and for the media to report on it accordingly.

If John Boehner can go back to Washington in January, get Congress out of my personal business and into the business of cutting spending, I don’t care if he lies down on the floor of the Capital Building and sobs like a little girl every day for the rest of his life...
Personally, I agree with Sarah.   

John Boehner truly represents the great American dream.  He grew up in a tiny house, sharing two bedrooms and one bathroom with eleven siblings (Boehner's parents slept on a pull-out couch).  He was the first in his family to go to college, taking seven years to finish because he was working several jobs (including janitor) to pay for his tuition.

Can you blame him for getting a little choked up when he thinks about how far he has come?  Is it really that strange for him to be moved by the challenges faced by other poor children? 

After two years of seeing Nancy Pelosi's overly-Botoxed face and wondering if she was capable of showing any human emotion at all (I'm still suspicious that she might be a robot) I like the idea of a politician who actually has some feelings.  I want to cry too when I think about the insane growth of our national debt.

Mr. Boehner, you've got a lot of hard work to do starting in January.  As Sarah said, do a good job and we aren't going to care if you're crying, giggling, or singing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great Political Christmas Cards

Some of Florida's most creative political minds aren't saving their talents for campaign ads.  Here is a selection of political Christmas cards (click images to enlarge):

From Saint Petersblog:

From the Southern Strategy Group:

My favorite Southern Strategy Group card is still the one from 2008:

Inside: "All the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names."
From the Gray Robinson law firm:

Republican or Democrat, hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More ridiculousness from the Palin-Haters

Just when I think the lamestream media's hatred of Sarah Palin can't get any more ridiculous...

This weekend, Palin traveled to Haiti on a humanitarian trip with Reverend Franklin Graham and the Samaritan's Purse charitable organization.  The Haitians, still a long way from recovering from the earthquake, recently were dealt another blow after the outbreak of a cholera epidemic.  The Associated Press sent photographers, and this was one of the photos they published:

Note the photo's caption: "Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, center, has her hair done during a visit to a cholera treatment center set up by the NGO Samaritan's Purse in Cabaret, Haiti, Saturday Dec. 11, 2010. Palin arrived Saturday in Haiti as part of a brief humanitarian mission. Dieu Nalio Chery / AP"

The AP needs to find a dictionary and look up the meaning of "journalism."  First of all, Sarah Palin isn't getting her "hair done" in this photo.  It's just a girl pushing a loose strand back in place.  As someone who has had long hair since high school, there's no way I would consider this getting my hair done.  If Sarah puts her hair in a ponytail, is that "getting an updo" now?

And what about the girl in the photo?  Who is she?

Let's look at another photo from the trip:

Who is that next to Todd Palin?  Hey, wasn't she on that dancing show?
Hmmm.  Same brown hair in a ponytail, same white T-shirt and jeans, same scarf as the "hairdresser"...yes, it's Bristol, Sarah Palin's daughter.

So basically, Bristol helps her mom fix her hair and the AP twists itself into pretzels trying to embarrass her.

The liberal derangement and paranoia over Sarah Palin continues, even after they were forced to admit that she wasn't really getting her hair done.  After seeing photos of Palin washing and sanitizing her hands, a Huffington Post commenter slammed her for being "primarily concerned, above all humanitarian else, about catching something."

Ummm, hello!  Palin was visiting a treatment center during a cholera outbreak!  Cholera!  Symptoms include sudden onset of severe diarrhea and vomiting, often causing severe electrolyte imbalances and dehydration, leading to death if not adequately treated.  And by the way, the World Health Organization and other medical organizations recommend thoroughly washing and disinfecting any hands that touch cholera patients, their bedding or clothes, etc.

So, yeah, that prissy little snob Sarah Palin didn't want to get cholera.  How ridiculous!  [insert eyeroll here]

Seriously, people.  This is the left-wing media's philosophy...their hatred is so deep and irrational that they are willing to attack a woman for taking basic health precautions so she doesn't bring a dangerous disease home with her (where, remember, she has a baby son).

Anyone want to take a bet what would happen if Michelle Obama had been on this same trip and Malia had fixed her mommy's hair?  Somehow I don't think we'll see Mrs. Obama taking a trip like this any time soon

(Hat tip to "kristinn" at the Free Republic, who had this great comment: "To reiterate, a daughter helps fix a loose strand of her mother's hair, and it becomes an international scandal. Amazing.")

Want to help the earthquake victims in Haiti?  Samaritan's Purse is collecting donations online for its humanitarian missions.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Atlas Discarded

Hello everyone, I'm hanging out at a Starbucks near Capitol Hill, killing some time before I head back to the airport and fly home to the warm(er) weather.  I'm having a wonderful time in Washington but my thin Floridian blood is not a fan of the wind here.

I've had some meetings in the Capitol Hill area the past few days, and spent some time wandering around the hallways of the congressional office buildings.  If you haven't visited before, there are three huge buildings, Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn, that are right next to each other that house the offices for all the Members of Congress, the committees, and of course lots and lots of administrative and support staff.  Underground tunnels  connect the three buildings. 

Anyway, the midterm elections have resulted in a lot of Members of Congress coming in, defeated Members packing up and going home (bye bye, Alan Grayson!), other Members changing offices due to new committee assignments/advancements in seniority, etc.  The hallways in Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn look like there's some kind of insane garage sale going on right now, furniture stacked up along all the walls. 

The building maintenance staff is going nuts trying to coordinate moving everything around.  I shared an elevator with a guy who was pushing a cart with a huge wooden desk that was some kind of antique...he mentioned that he was stressed out because they had told him that the Congressman had spent "thousands of dollars" on it...not sure if that was to buy the desk or to ship it to Washington, but either way, this poor man was really having a hard time fitting it in the elevator without banging it on the walls and he looked about ready to cry.  Not sure which Congressman it was, but he had better appreciate that desk!

Besides all the furniture moving, a lot of offices are doing some housecleaning.  I saw several tables set up with books, office supplies, etc. with signs indicating that the items were being discarded so they were free for the taking.  Being a bookworm, I stopped to look at the stacks of books to see if there were any interesting titles, and at one table in the Cannon Building, I saw this:

If you call yourself a tea partier and you haven't read this book, shame on you.

...a brand new copy of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged!  Score!  My copy was my mother's from college and it's definitely seen better days...the cover is held on with tape, what can I say, it's been well-loved.  I was happy to get a new copy of this great book, and the fact that I could say I picked it up in the Congressional offices was just an added bonus.

On the Metro ride back from Capitol Hill, I opened up the book and just had to laugh when I saw the inside cover:

Of course Atlas Shrugged would get thrown out by a Democrat!  Representative Ellison doesn't even have the excuse that he's leaving office (the voters in Minnesota's 5th District re-elected him to a second term last month). 

The fact that a Democrat is discarding the book that is viewed by many as the the "bible" of limited government says a lot, IMHO.  Maybe if Ellison and more of his Democratic colleagues had taken some time to study this book, they might have learned some useful ideas and not suffered, as President Obama put it, such a "shellacking" at the ballot box.

I'm going to forward this on to FreedomWorks.  I'm very interested to see what they think about it.  ;-) 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Instead of changing your Facebook status, how about actually DOING something?

Over the past few months, I've noticed a trend on Facebook and other social media platforms of my friends changing their status message or profile pictures, in an effort to "raise awareness" of a particular cause or disease:
  • Women writing a status message that simply lists a color, purportedly the color of the bra they are wearing, to raise awareness about breast cancer;
  • Women listing where they like to set their purse when they get home, with the saucy-sounding phrase of "I like it [on the bed, on the kitchen counter, etc.]," again to raise awareness of breast cancer;
  • Tinting Twitter profile pictures green to support the Iranian election protests in June 2009; 
  • Changing Facebook and Twitter profile pictures to a red icon to support the fight against AIDS; 
  • And then, this week, changing Facebook profile pictures to a favorite cartoon character to support the fight against child abuse.
This all sounds very nice...after all, who doesn't want to fight cancer and child abuse?  But I can't help but think, do all these photos and status updates and tweets actually accomplish anything?  The only example I see of any of this  social media maelstrom doing any good is the number of people around the world who changed their time zone to Tehran in June 2009 to make it harder for the Iranian government to track down those who were actually sending out tweets in support of the protests from within Iran.

For the most part though, this frenzy of status updates does not have much of an effect.  After all, who isn't "aware" of breast cancer?  I'm not even sure that being raised by wolves would be enough to be beyond the reach of the very talented marketing people who are responsible for making every single household appliance available in pale pink.

You can have any color you want, as long as it's pink

So, here's my radical idea: next time you get a message strongly urging you to "Help Raise Awareness!", instead of just changing your profile picture or status update, include a link where your friends can actually do something to help the cause, by donating money or volunteering.

As a conservative, I believe in limited government and I have deep concerns about the effect that generation after generation living on welfare might have on society.  I do not think that long term public assistance is the best way for people to be happy, healthy, and safe.  However, I do believe that we have a moral obligation as human beings to share opportunities with those who need our help.  I am a very strong proponent of private charities, especially those with a proven track record.  Private charity has a much better success rate than government programs, and is almost always more financially efficient. 

Here are some charities that I would encourage you to support:
American Cancer Society (Cancer research and support for patients and families)

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (Breast Cancer research and support)

Ronald McDonald House Orlando (Provides housing for families of children who are being treated at local hospitals)
Habitat for Humanity Orlando (Building homes for low-income families; neighborhood improvement projects)
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Central Florida (Humane Society) (animal rescue, treatment, and adoption services, spay/neuter programs, educational and abuse prevention programs)
BETA Center (Prenatal care and counseling for teen moms and at-risk families; educational support; child care training)

Wounded Warrior Project (helps wounded veterans and their families)

Walter Reed Army Medical Center (link includes information on sending holiday cards to wounded veterans, donating to support veterans and their families, and volunteer opportunities)

United Service Organizations (USO) (sends care packages to troops stationed overseas, entertainment and therapy programs, other support for active duty military, veterans, and families)
Please share the websites for charities that you support in the comments.  Between  my Facebook friends and Twitter followers (where I share links to all blog posts), plus all the other readers of this blog, that's several thousand people I  can reach every week.  If every single one of you decided to donate an hour of your time and $20.00 this week, think about what an amazing impact that would have!

OK, go out there and do some good deeds!  Thank you :)

Amazon links if you like pink appliances (I wasn't kidding, they really do make everything in pink):

Friday, December 3, 2010

Governor Christie: How will our children judge us?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets a lot of attention - and YouTube hits - when he's fired up, debating political opponents, tearing apart the unions, and humiliating wanna-be hecklers, but he's also got some good things to say when he's in a calmer mood.

Here is Governor Christie giving the keynote address at the Foundation for Excellence in Education dinner in Washington, D.C. earlier this week:

YouTube | Governor Christie: How will our children judge us?

I'll be honest...I don't want Christie on the 2012 Republican Presidential ticket.  Not yet.  But I have an immense amount of respect for his tough attitude and his strength of character.  His audacity and stubborn insistence on sticking to his principles, regardless of who attacks him or how often he's attacked, is something that a lot of Republican candidates could benefit from studying.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A behind-the-scenes look at the NRCC's 2010 strategy

Interesting article on Politico by Brad Todd and Mike Shields, who headed up the independent expenditure efforts for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), about their successful strategies for the 2010 elections:

There's some intriguing stuff about the NRCC's strategy from the beginning, to aggressively target Democrats in conservative-leaning districts:
Our independent expenditure unit was spun out of the NRCC and given four guiding principles: 1) maximize dollars by acting early to broaden the playing field; 2) never let a local storyline stray from the national narrative; 3) force “red” districts to perform “red,” even if the incumbent is popular, and 4) upgrade our quantitative research and media production values to customize each race. 

We stuck to these principles throughout the fall, and -- to our great surprise -- the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee never tried to force us off our game. All our hard funding decisions were between competing opportunities in long-shot races – never between one of our very public early targets and new opportunities. 

Perhaps most significant, these strategic principles were not formed in the swell of a wave -- they guided the NRCC since January, 2009. Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) created a challenger-focused, aggressive NRCC and viewed House control as the only acceptable outcome -- even as many in Washington saw this as a two-cycle project.
The mindset from the early days, installed and enforced by the NRCC’s Executive Director Guy Harrison, was “play offense” and “cause chaos” -- and the IE unit was set up as an extension of this philosophy.
To win a majority in one election, the NRCC had to make the playing field larger than just the Democratic “war babies,” who had won in 2006 and 2008 as part of the vote against President George W. Bush. We needed a playing field that gave us 80 opportunities to win 39 seats...
...The best use of scarce resources, we decided, was to start play early -- pushing the prospect of majority control to mobilize outside groups and donors to individual campaigns. The operational term became “make-a-race” and our rationale was simple: If we build it, they will come. 

We did build it. And they came -- both donors to candidates and third-party assistance from outside groups that had previously focused on Senate races. Federal Election Commission data shows the DCCC’s IE Unit out-spent the NRCC’s unit $62 million to $44 million in 2010, but the same reports show the other major third-party players on the conservative side out-spent their liberal counterparts.
Also interesting is the discussion of the decision to make the health care bill a central theme of the election:
The health care vote, while consistently not the toughest hit in quantitative surveys, provoked a more visceral reaction among voters than any other Democratic misstep. While independents objected to Democrats’ spending and debt, we found it was the health care vote that caused them to give up on the party as a congressional majority.
Focus group respondents in Rep. Scott Murphy’s upstate New York district were so agitated by his flip-flop to support health care reform that they began cursing our moderator.
When asking voters an open-ended question about their greatest hesitation to supporting their local Democratic candidate, the phrase “health care” came up more often than any other -- besides “Democrat.” In our most difficult races, we closed the campaign on health care.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Priorities, Smiorities

Let's play a game...let's pretend we can wave a wand, and POOF! make you Attorney General for the United States of America. We'll give you Eric Holder's job. You start today. Good luck!

So, if you were Attorney General, what would your priorities be? What do you think are the biggest legal issues facing our country right now? What would you do today?
Maybe you would want to investigate how that Wikileaks jerkface Julian Assange was able to obtain such a mind-boggling amount of U.S. classified documents, again?
Would you start with our illegal immigration problem? Or maybe work on some ideas to reform our legal immigration procedures?

What should be done with the detainees at Guantanamo? (Hmmm, what happened to that January deadline? President Obama seems to have forgotten about his self-imposed deadline...or did reality give him a nasty slap across the face?)

How about how to handle the trials of terrorists? The White House didn't want military tribunals, but the civilian trials aren't going so well.  

And of course, we need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect our country from future acts of terrorism.  How should we investigate terror plots?  What legal protections do American citizens who are suspected terrorists deserve?  What if the suspected terrorists aren't Americans? 

Maybe you would want to look into voter fraud issues?  Looks like New York is a good place to start.

Medicare/Medicaid fraud is an ongoing epidemic that costs us untold billions of dollars every year. That might be worth investigating.
That's a pretty good list. I bet you can think of some others.  Why don't you write them down?

OK, what's on your list?  Is a soccer game anywhere on it?  Yes, I said soccer game.  Soccer is a big national priority, isn't it?  Oh.  Soccer wouldn't be on your list of priorities if you were Attorney General?

Well, guess you can't have the job after all.  Because apparently in the Obama administration, soccer is a really big deal:

Yes, Eric Holder, our Attorney General, is in Switzerland today, to lobby to bring the World Cup to America in 2022.  

The week that our national security and worldwide diplomatic efforts are endangered by Wikileaks' latest release of documents, just a few weeks after terrorists attempted to send explosives hidden in printer cartridges in cargo planes, in the middle of important debates (and accompanying litigation) regarding the health care bill, immigration, don't-ask-don't-tell, and terrorism trials, Eric Holder is taking a little vacation to Switzerland to chat about a soccer game that is taking place twelve years from now.

Are you @#$% kidding me?!

Now, I've been to Switzerland.  It's lovely.  I mean, it's lovely in a so-pretty-it-almost-makes-your-eyeballs-hurt kind of way.  The people are extremely nice...and the chocolate, oh yes, don't forget the chocolate!  I highly recommend you visit if you get a chance.

It's ridiculously lovely, but does not belong on the Attorney General's to-do list (Image from
With everything that is going on right now, in the United States and around the world, I cannot for the life of me figure out how a soccer game to be played more than a decade from now has a darn thing to do with what our Attorney General should be doing with his time.  

For that matter, why is this a priority for the White House at all?  Is a soccer game twelve years from now going to create jobs?  Give me a break.

Maybe this relates to how Obama is supposed to magically make the world "like" us again.  Most of the planet thinks we're silly for not calling it "football" like they do.  Is Eric Holder telling everyone in Switzerland that Obama will make us start saying football if they give us the World Cup?  Hmmm, the Great and All-Knowing Obama will have to decide what we're supposed to call football, but I'm sure he'll figure something out.

Bottom line: this is just plain ridiculous, a colossal waste of taxpayer money and resources,  sends the message that the White House is not serious about oh, pretty much every issue facing us right now, and is, in my opinion, just one more bit of proof that the Obama Administration is in way over their heads.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just Say No to Keynesian Economics

During the past few years, you may have overheard references to "Keynesian Economics" in some of the debates about how to improve the economy.  What exactly is "Keynesian Economics," how is it shaping current U.S. economic policy, and, most importantly, is it a good idea?

Well, first of all, "Keynesian economics" refers to John Maynard Keynes, and is a macroeconomic theory named after him.

John Maynard Keynes knows what's good for you
Let me be clear about one thing: Keynesian economics has absolutely nothing to do with Kenya.  There are a surprising number of people who get this confused.  I had some nutcase on Twitter accuse me of being a racist and hating the President because I voiced an opinion about Keynesian policies.  Ummm, no.  (Side note: if you're  going to try and start a fight with someone on the internet, try not to do it about something that is easily disproved by Google.)

Anyway: here is a video taken at the Stewart-Colbert Rally that has some fun with this common misconception:

YouTube | Obama is not a Keynesian, He's an American!
Now back to the serious stuff.  Keynesian economics is also not socialism or communism, because it does not advocate actual government takeover and/or ownership of private enterprise.  However, it does advocate a high degree of interference with the private economy.

The Keynesians believe that the private sector creates "inefficiencies" and view the cyclical swings of the economy (booms and busts, inflationary periods, recessions, etc.) as something which ought to be tamed or suppressed.  Keynesians support government control over a powerful central bank, centralized fiscal policy, and other actions and interference by the government with the national economy in an effort to stabilize it.

The stimulus bill is a Keynesian type of policy: the justification for the bill was that the massive spending under the bill would increase consumer spending and thereby "stimulate" the economy.  However, this is a fallacy...or in simpler terms, it's complete and utter crap.

Economic growth (increases in small business profits, personal income, investment income, etc.) leads to an increase in consumer spending, not the other way around.  Think about it in terms of your own life - if you go to the mall and spend all your savings, does that make you richer?  Of course not.  On the flip side, if you get a raise at work or make a profitable investment, wouldn't you possibly be more likely to buy a more expensive car, take a nice vacation, or buy a lovely pair of designer shoes?
Buying these shoes won't make you rich.  However, if you are rich, you might buy these shoes.

Here is a great video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that explains all this Keynesian stuff in 5 easy minutes (Seriously, watch it.  It's good for you):

YouTube | CFPEcon101 | Keynesian Economics is Wrong: Economic Growth Causes Consumer Spending, Not the Other Way

So, basically, just like you can't get rich by buying a pair of designer shoes, America can't improve the economy simply by having the government spend a humongous pile of money.

And just to make sure we are crystal clear - the reason the  stimulus bill didn't work was not because we didn't spend enough, but because the entire  underlying concept is fundamentally flawed (or, as I so eloquently wrote earlier, "complete and utter crap").

Finally, let's think about what happens if you spend money you don't have: you end up in debt.  Our country is in a big, gigantic, frighteningly deep hole of debt right now, and apparently it seems that none of the Democrats have heard the saying, "If you're in a hole, STOP DIGGING!"

"Forget a ladder!  I can tax and spend my way out!" (Image originally on

Keynesian policies have no chance of getting us out of this debt or saving our economy; they can only dig us deeper into trouble.

I did a Google image search for Keynesian economics and found a wonderfully snarky illustration of the problem: a T-shirt that says - in Chinese - "Keynesian economics makes sense to me:"  

Keynesian economics = China owns us.
To further drive the point home, Citizens Against Government Waste put out a devastating ad right before the election, warning of what may come if we don't "stop digging:"

YouTube | CAGWmedia | Chinese Professor

So remember, Keynesian Economics = nothing to do with Kenya, the economic equivalent of trying to escape a hole by digging it deeper, and always a bad idea (unless you're China).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unconstitutional + Useless = TSA

Here's an interesting op-ed at the Washington Post by Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, about the legal issues behind a recent lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center challenging the constitutionality of the controversial body scanners being used by the TSA at our airports:

Courts evaluating airport-screening technology tend to give great deference to the government's national security interest in preventing terrorist attacks. But in this case, there's a strong argument that the TSA's measures violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Although the Supreme Court hasn't evaluated airport screening technology, lower courts have emphasized, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2007, that "a particular airport security screening search is constitutionally reasonable provided that it 'is no more extensive nor intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives.' "
In a 2006 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, then-Judge Samuel Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both "minimally intrusive" and "effective" - in other words, they must be "well-tailored to protect personal privacy," and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate "in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search."
 As currently used in U.S. airports, the new full-body scanners fail all of Alito's tests...
...Broadly, U.S. courts have held that "routine" searches of all travelers can be conducted at airports as long as they don't threaten serious invasions of privacy. By contrast, "non-routine" searches, such as strip-searches or body-cavity searches, require some individualized suspicion - that is, some cause to suspect a particular traveler of wrongdoing. Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered "routine," and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.  
I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the article.  It makes it clear that the TSA is not only not using the best available technology, but is engaging in violations of our privacy far beyond what is necessary, and without any additional security benefits.  For example, scanner machines are available which do not create a complete detailed image of the person's naked body, but instead, "[i]f the software detects contraband or suspicious material under a passenger's clothing, it projects an outline of that area of the body onto a gender-neutral, blob-like human image," and that image can then be analyzed to determine if secondary screening of that passenger is necessary.  The fact that the TSA machines are capable of recording, storing, and transmitting images is also problematic.

I am supposed to fly next month and I am sincerely hoping that before I head to the airport, the TSA engages in some serious evaluations of its policies, either voluntarily or because one of these lawsuits forces them to do so.  I shouldn't have to chose between being groped by a stranger or giving the government a naked photo of my body in order to board a plane, especially when neither of these things actually helps keep us any safer.

Look what the body scanners miss...this is a video of Adam Savage, from Discovery Channel's Mythbusters show, sharing an experience he had with the TSA recently (warning, NSFW language):

Did you see that?   He had two 12" razor blades with him.  Twelve inch razor blades!  Remember, the 9/11 hijackers committed their horrific acts with box cutters, which have a similar blade, but smaller!

The scanner machines missed these razor blades.  Completely missed them.  "WTF" is right!

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available here.