Monday, September 28, 2009

Racist Baby Buggy Bumpers

So the people who are influenced by Fox News (or Faux News if you prefer) are ignorant rubes being brainwashed, but those who are influenced by Newsweek or other left leaning propaganda sources are truly enlightened. Isn't that right?

The very week that charges of racism are flying around the media and blogosphere that those who oppose the Obama prescription for health care reform are indeed racists, does anyone else find it as obvious as I do what Newsweek is trying to do with this cover story?

Essentially they are saying, listen rubes it's not your fault if you can't see the sheer brilliance of Obama's plan because you were born a racist. You can't help it...

I don't really care that this may have been a perfectly legitimate study and scientifically valid, verifiable and testable (though I doubt it is) the point is the timing and the placement on the cover of a (once) respected news magazine. Who are they trying to kid?

Are we to assume that the dialogue Newsweek wishes to engage is a simple verification of white guilt organic style?

In the article, the authors say that black parents teaching ethnic pride is very good for a child's self-confidence. They then assert that the thought of white children having some kind of ethnic pride is "horrifying to imagine" and "abhorrent".

Why is it that white scholars and liberal activists ignore a most significant racial tenet offered by anyone of any color? Martin Luther King Jr. was crystal clear when he advised us all that a man should not be judged by the color of his skin, but rather by the content of his character.

Honestly, what more needs to be said? Just this: shame on you Newsweek.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Garbage In Garbage Out

Learned something today...

I am narrow minded and self centered. Let me explain.

I received a note from my trash hauler that said the city council is considering new laws for trash collection. Currently the city, the second largest in the state of Minnesota is a free for all. The only stipulation I am aware of is that all the haulers have to serve the same neighborhoods on the same day so there are not trash trucks rumbling up and down the streets 5 days a week - this makes perfect sense. The city is open to competition and we have excellent choices and lower costs. I recently changed haulers and saw my bill drop by more than a 3rd. This is good, no?

Well, of course it's good for me. I am motivated by nothing more than cost. I can't say "boy that guy picks up the trash way better than the other guy".

So today I called my city councilman to voice my opinion about it. The first thing I asked was what problem were they trying to solve. To my surprise I got back some decent answers that made some sense.

  1. Multiple haulers going down the alleys that were not designed for that much load adds to repair costs for the city and property owners. Hmmm I don't have an alley.
  2. Efficiency for the hauler in that (after winning the bid for that particular district) they can condense their routes and save fuel. Hmmm not my fuel.
  3. The requirement that all properties have trash collection could be enforced when one hauler has all properties in a district - many don't and use the road ditches for their junk. Hmmm I have seen street garbage myself.
OK. So I can agree some of this has merit. However he lost me when he said that these government mandates and regulations should increase efficiency that will result in lower costs. I laughed and oddly so did he... In the end I had more questions than answers.

  • A fair compromise?
  • A logical step toward government takeover of trash collection?
  • A solution looking for a problem?
  • All of the above?

The lesson I guess is that when I look at something through the rose colored lens of my narrow world I can't possibly see the whole picture. In this case the city is not (currently) calling for municipal trash collection and will open up for bids from private companies district by district. I am still skeptical primarily because I see my costs going up!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

When I'm Wrong - Boy am I Wrong

In June of 2007 - seems like a lifetime ago - anyway, I posted a short piece on the demise of the Federal deficit. I loudly proclaimed by April of 2008 the annual budget deficit would vanish thus giving the Democrats nothing to run on in the fall. It seemed like a safe bet at the time...

Had I known the housing bubble was going to burst (or possibly already had) and the cascading effect it would have on the not just the domestic economy but the global financial system I wouldn't have been so smug.

At the time it seemed that since the economy had been so robust and the war in Iraq had taken a turn for the better that the Democrats had nothing left to run on except that their nominee would not be Bush. I wasn't sure that was going to be enough. Regardless, I thought any GOPer would beat 'ol Hillary if there was no deficit to bark about. If I even had an inkling of what was to come I wouldn't have been so smug.

Oddly the warning signs were there all along and whether I just wasn't paying attention or the news media was unaware or willfully negligent in reporting the news of rising foreclosures and falling housing values I wouldn't have been so smug.

As 2008 unfolded the bottom had fallen out on the housing market. Since the entire rebirth of the economy after the dot com bust was based on housing it was going to be bad. I had no idea... When all the industries and services that fed the housing market began failing the cascade effect made it exponentially worse. To add insult to injury gasoline prices at the pump exceeded $4.00 a gallon further stunting consumer spending which is the life blood of any economy. By July when it looked like Barack "hopeandchange" Obama was going to be the nominee for the Democrats and was spewing his rhetoric about how he was going remake America traditional businessman prepared to hunker down and trim their operations. Had I imagined any of this back in June of 2007 I wouldn't have been so smug.

I am here to say - I WAS WRONG.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Soros: Is he on your radar?

...he should be

I have been monitoring the doings of George Soros for several years and have written in this blog about what a dangerous man I think he is.

I ask you to spend a few minutes reading a quick synopsis of the activities of this man by Jack Kemp on Timothy Birdnow's website. Click here to read it now...

Here are a few choice excerpts:

quote - “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.”—George Soros

Soros made his first billion in 1992 by shorting the British pound with leveraged billions in financial bets, and became known as the man who broke the Bank of England. He broke it on the backs of hard-working British citizens who immediately saw their homes severely devalued and their life savings cut drastically…almost overnight.”--Kyle-Anne Shiver for “The American Thinker”

In 1997 Soros almost destroyed the economies of Thailand and Malaysia.“We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the people.” -- Thai activist Weng Tojirakarn

America, as the centre of the globalised financial markets, was sucking up the savings of the world. This is now over. The game is out,” he said, adding that the time has come for “a very serious adjustment” in American’s consumption habits. World financial crisis was”stimulating” and “in a way, the culmination of my life’s work.” -- attributed to George Soros in the newspaper The Australian

He has for all intents and purposes bought and paid for the Democratic Party and using his powerful media and political organizations (Time Warner and to name just two) so demonized Bush and the Republicans that he has successfully achieved control of the ruling party. This is one dangerous man. Read the article!


Monday, September 14, 2009

REVIEW: District 9

Rarely does a movie stick to my ribs like this one did.

Like all UFO buffs I have had daydreams (and a few nightmares) of what it will be like when the aliens come. Like most people I assume it will be with shock and awe like we saw in a completely ridiculous movie like Independence Day or that awful remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. I mean to tell you District 9 was the negative image to Independence Day's glossy print.

This film was presented to us as a quasi documentary - real and gritty, with nervousness and curiosity. None of the fake patriotism and bravado of the usual Hollywood fare. In District 9 the aliens were not the villains. Predictably, and might I say realistically, the real villains were an overwhelmed government and a multi-national weapons manufacturer called MNU.

The story takes place in Johannesburg South Africa where 28 years ago a city sized UFO took up residence in the sky above the city. We are told documentary style how after three months of absolutely no activity the authorities finally cut their way into the ship. In it they found over million starving aliens. Derogatorily called Prawns because they resemble the earthly decapods we eat with cocktail sauce, they were a hive mentality race cut off from their "queen" and were lost and helpless.

The aliens were brought down to the planet and set up on the outskirts of the city in a refugee camp known as District 9. Intelligent but leaderless the aliens were easily herded a separated from the human population. Despite the razor-wire and guard towers the aliens were not safe from humans or safe for humans. After almost 30 years the human population grew tired of the problems the aliens caused and money spent on them. MNU is tasked with a relocation plan to move them 240 kilometers out of town.

As with any good villain MNU has ulterior motives. The aliens have advanced technology and weapons but try as they might MNU's scientists can't make them function. Because they are constructed with a biologic interface tied to the aliens DNA they are useless to humans and their armies. Hoping to uncover secrets hidden in District 9 that would help them with a breakthrough MNU sets out to begin the relocation process. Thus the story begins.

An MNU field operative named Wikus van der Merwe is tasked with the relocation operation and becomes the unlikely hero of the story. The sidekick, so to speak, is an alien called Christopher Johnson, who has a small and inquisitive young son whom he fiercely defends. It is hinted in the side line interviews that Christopher might be a surviving member of the prawn leadership caste, in that he shows much more knowledge of how the alien technology worked. He also possessed and had hidden the command module seen falling from the ship 28 years earlier but was never found.

This is all I would like to say so as to not spoil the experience for anyone interested in a very well done alien romp at the movie theater.

I really enjoyed it and I would say it isn't out of the realm of possibilities that a sequel could be forthcoming - there was still a lot of story to tell.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thomas Friedman: To China with Love

Of all the commentators the major news networks trot out for their reasoned take on the issues of the day there is one who continually gets his ass kissed like he's some kind of royalty or wise elder statesman. All of them - David Broder, Mark Shields, David Gergan, Paul Krugman, Newt Gingrich and David Brooks - can be thoroughly nauseating at times but New York Times opinion sage Thomas Friedman is hoisted on a pedestal as the breathless nation awaits his perspicacious proclamations.

He is, in fact, a partisan sloganeer pretending to be an oh so wise intellectual progressive. I have read some of his books and will say he delivers valuable insight on several economic and cultural trends. He is a trained observer of socio-economic world. He is however completely predictable. In his eyes Liberals, Democrats and Progressives while at times misguided are inherently good and decent, having only the best intentions. Conservatives, Republicans and Traditionalists are troglodytes.

One of his latest books called "Hot, Flat and Crowded" is demonstrably wrong on all counts. For someone with one clever slogan after another it doesn't seem to matter that the facts just don't support his suppositions. Hot, of course, is a reference to Global Warming. Despite what the true believers believe the facts are proving the opposite is true - we are headed into period of global cooling and that climate change is a fact not a symptom. Flat is a shout out to his previous bestseller "The World is Flat" which presumes that the global economic playing field has been leveled by technology and transportation improvements. While their might be some merit to his idea - the rules of the game are not the same for everyone and every nation - the playing field is far from level. Crowded means population explosion and resource depletion. Here again the actual trends point to the world population peaking sometime in this century and then receding precipitously. White Europeans and the Japanese literally could be on the road to extinction if current demographic trends continue. All around the world fertility is waning - almost all peoples are having fewer children. Global resources have kept pace in a world that has seen the human population double since the 1960's.

Basically Friedman is just plain wrong more often than not - in my opinion.

In his latest proclamation he is picking China as the winner in the Global Dominance sweepstakes. The reason? China is a one party autocracy led by a reasonably enlightened group of people. America on the other hand is shackled by red state troglodytes.

He writes: China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

So what if all this is absolutely true? They are essentially a party dictatorship. They don't respect the rights of their own citizens. They have embraced the economic growth and wealth of capitalism but none of the ancillary costs. China does not innovate they steal. China does not compete they cheat. Sure there's a lot to like about getting things done by simple decree instead of messy legislation negotiated with backward leaning troglodytes, but we are a democracy with a representative form of government that must consider the will of the people.

Friedman is quite impressed with the way China gets things done. He admires their progressive vision for the future. But paragons of virtue and stewards of the planet China is not. While complaining that the troglodytes are standing in the way of meaningful carbon (read: wealth) restrictions on Americans, Friedman doesn't seem to mind that the dash toward economic development that has been official state policy in China for the last few decades has left it one of the most polluted countries on the planet. This while America's GDP increases and our pollution decreases... The U.S. leads all industrialized nations in the reduction in the growth of our carbon output. In other words we are going in the right direction (if one believes carbon is a problem). Meanwhile China brings online a new coal fired power plant every week and cares not a whit for worker's rights or the pollution they breathe. According to Friedman America's rebuttal should be draconian taxation on carbon imposed to all businesses and industries that operate in America, making everything we do more expensive.

The far sighted Chinese regime continues to outlaw the formation of real trade unions and the right to strike which of course leads to artificially low wages. How does a $2/day salary with no benefits strike you Tom? And we ought to emulate China because that's what we want for America and our workforce, right?

While others share Friedman's belief that globalization is a form of salvation the American capitalist class just keeps on outsourcing, shuttering U.S. industry and moving jobs overseas. These captains of American industry refuse to invest in their own country's future because most of the returns go to workers in the form of higher wages and not to the shareholders. Perhaps the most devastating aspect of this trend as we dismantle our manufacturing capabilities and move them to China - we are generally required to transfer our most advanced technologies to their factories.

Does Friedman's admiration of the "Chinese Way" include the suppression of consumption in order to accumulate capital wealth to be controlled by the government? Where is the vast Chinese market for American goods we were promised? Ultimately opening up American markets to China has not fostered the spread of "democracy" instead it has been devastating to the U.S. economy and American workers.

So Mr. Friedman, perhaps the Chinese will lead the world in manufacturing all manner of energy efficient and "green" technology, but they won't be the ones developing it and its citizens will still be living in a cesspool - and ours will live in poverty. Go China, long live the troglodytes!


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health Care Debate: What about Germany?

In all this debate about what our health care system should look like when all is said and done we never hear about Germany. We hear about Britain and Canada - with total government control and ownership of the health care systems in their respective countries. It seems clear that one, the American people don't want government control regardless of President Obama's real agenda, and two, politicians and the lapdog media are not being square with us.

What is Germany's story?

The Germans have universal health care - everyone is covered. Get this: it is a totally private system. The doctors, the hospitals, the clinics, the pharmaceuticals and yes, even the insurance companies are private companies. How do they do it and still keep their administrative costs to around 5%? There are a few reasons. They don't have a layer of bureaucratic red tape imposed by individual states like we do here in America. They don't have Medicare. Just as significant the private insurance industry in Germany is non-profit.

American health care administrative costs are triple what they are in all the other modern countries. Our per capita health care costs are double and we don't even cover everybody. Why? Part of the issue is Medicare itself. Medicare has administrative costs of around 3%. You might say "brilliant"! How do they do it? They do it by pushing those costs on to the providers. There is a sub-specialty in medical collections for Medicare reimbursement. I know this to be true because my wife is one. There is a time limit imposed getting money out of Medicare - if all "i's" are not dotted and your "t's" are not crossed forget it, you will not get paid. Billers are required to resubmit multiple times which obviously drives up administrative costs. Sure, Medicare doesn't get between the doctor and the patient by denying treatment - they just don't pay up on the other end.

Additionally, a non-profit insurance model makes a lot of sense for health care. Health insurance is not like car insurance and other insurance offerings where we have and should have choices. Not everyone drives a car or owns a home. We all have health issues. There is no value added with for profit health care insurance.

We definitely need to straighten out the administrative side of our health care system - this doesn't mean it has to be government controlled like the current congress and the President favor. There is a working model we are overlooking...

Have you heard anything about Germany and how they have been a success in marrying universal coverage with a private health care industry? I thought not. We should try to emulate Germany rather than Canada or Britain, but this is not what the left - the Democrats really want.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Van Jones, we hardly knew 'ya

At a minute to midnight on Saturday the Obama Administration announces that Van Jones, the so-called Green Jobs Czar, had resigned amid controversy. The timing was such that it was not going to make a splash on the traditional Sunday morning political shows. Of course Jones claimed to have been the victim of a "vicious smear campaign". I'm not sure you can call bringing to light the things he actually said he believes in to be a vicious smear - sounds more like the truth to me.

Jones says he didn't come to this job to fight for himself, he came to "fight" for the people. Frankly that's a more tiring a cliche than athletes "giving 100%" or "playing one game at a time". Still, the larger question is really about the President's overall judgment bringing someone like this into his inner circle.

Van Jones is a known marxist sympathizer, a virulent anti-American propagandizer and has joined in the chorus of 9/11 "truthers". All of this could have been found doing a rudimentary Google search. As the guys over at pointed out it never really dawned on team Obama that these things might be viewed with suspicion or concern because these attitudes are not foreign them.

Glenn Beck - the resident semi-crazy conspiracy theorist at Fox News - pounded away at this guy which really turned up the heat. Beck took a lot of heat himself over this, but in the end the truth won out.

The thing is Van Jones is not unique among the people working for President Obama. They have a radical agenda for America - and they were not necessarily coy about it during the campaign. They cried "Change" endlessly for a year. I think the American people were not sure what they were getting. I suspect the voting public wanted something other than George W. Bush - not something other than America.

Maybe, just maybe the electorate is seeing the light.