31 May 2009

Karma's a Bitch

Go fast, turn left template-racing is just not getting it done:
Had NASCAR fans who dominate the blogosphere been invited, the discussion surely could have included such hot-button issues as the plethora of "cookie-cutter" racetracks (1.5-mile superspeedways in Atlanta, Chicago, Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Las Vegas, Texas and Concord, N.C., where the competition is similar); the erratic start times of races; and the hackneyed banter that dominates the broadcasts on Fox, along with its animated gopher mascot, Digger, who's more overexposed than Madonna

Midwest Mopar Show

30 May 2009

Auto Incentives From Around the World

Sometimes low price and low interest-loans aren't enough:

MITSUBISHI Motors in New Zealand is offering a free goat with every Triton ute sold before August in a novel effort at correcting the economy.

Goats improved farm productivity by defending against weeds, were cheaper than toxic sprays, and there was no risk of goat flu affecting the tourism industry, he told NZPA.

"We are aware that three years of drought has severely depleted sheep and beef populations, so what better time to float the goat?''

Most Transparent Administration Ever

Make no mistake, this is not the Congress' stimulus package, this is the White House's stimulus package:

"First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process. We concluded this was necessary under the unique circumstances of the stimulus program.

"Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.

"Third, we will continue to require immediate internet disclosure of all other communications with registered lobbyists. If registered lobbyists have conversations or meetings before an application is filed, a form must be completed and posted to each agency’s website documenting the contact."

You that voted for him defend this please.

29 May 2009

But Who Will Erect the Roman Columns?

Obama advance team struck with H1N1; I sure hope there's enough pomp and circumstance for the glorious arrival.

26 May 2009

The Delicious Taste of One's Shoe

MAY 20th - North Korea no problem, old white man should shut up:
(John) Bolton chose to growl at the old, but reliable, enemy of North Korea. This is a particularly vintage move when one considers North Korea already tried to strike fear into the hearts of Americans last month when they tested a missile that fizzled and fell into the ocean 1,300 miles off the east coast of Japan. Bolton's stance is pretty brave because his frenzied ideology flies in the face of scholarly counsel.

Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test he hollers at the top of the page. Bolton recycles the argument that Kim got everything his tiny dictator heart desired by bullying the world into six-party talks, which "gave [him] cover to further advance his nuclear program."
May 24th - North Korea actaully detonates a massive nuclear weapon and is stil not done.
North Korea reportedly fired two more short-range missiles into waters off its east coast Tuesday, undeterred by the strong international condemnation that followed its detonation of a nuclear device and test-firing of three missiles a day earlier.
May 26th - Unfunny and short-sighted writer hides behind behind the skirt of Sonia Sotomayor:
It's typical that Conservatives would be annoyed by any appointment of a liberal to the Supreme Court, let alone (perish the thought) a woman and a Hispanic.
Nice work, idiot.

Can You See Past Your Smoke?

A cautionary tale for the recently adjourned (THANK GOD) Minnesota Legislature:

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

All of this means that the burden of paying for bloated government in Annapolis will fall on the middle class. Thanks to the futility of soaking the rich, these working families will now pay (Governor) O'Malley's "fair share."

Politicians like to brag about how Minnesota is near the top in so many arbitrary national rankings. One that they never give themselves enough credit for is being too smart by half.

Multi-Channeled over a Cup of Joe.

I've long hoped that wireless access would become an expected utility when you enter a business like lights and air conditioning. Unfortuantely, some of the Third Places in our lives still can't get two plus two to equal at least four:
Get up, go to get in line at coffee counter, ask why code from card does not work. Barista comes over to my table, takes me to a completely different url on the Starbucks site where I have to set up a full account with ATT. Hmmmm. Just for Wi-Fi. And I'm supposedly pretty advanced in terms of this crazy interweb space. If I were an average customer and not an experience collector I would now just give up, because it has already been 30 minutes and I am still not on. Barista cheerfully explains to me that the account set-up is necessary because the card I bought is actually a rewards card and now I would be eligible for all sorts of special stuff from Starbucks! I look at the $5 coffee card I bought and it says nothing at all about rewards. Or that it is a rewards card. Barista who sold it to me said nothing about it being a rewards card.

22 May 2009

Required Reading - Buyers Remorse

I've been thinking a lot lately about when I might see some signs of buyers' remorse. I'm not alone:
(W)hen Obama’s ideals clash with reality, he has been able to find compromises that don’t put him at a political disadvantage. For instance, no Democrat can win the general election while adhering to the public financing system if the Republican nominee doesn’t do the same. Clinton and John Edwards have simply conceded that the public financing system is dead and are ignoring fund-raising restrictions that would be triggered if either ends up playing within the public financing scheme. Facing the same situation, Obama — a longtime champion of campaign finance reform in general and public financing in particular — asked the Federal Election Commission if he could raise the potentially restricted money now (the world as it is) but then give it back if he wins the nomination and convinces his Republican opponent to stick with public financing (the world as we would like it to be).

But Obama quickly ignored that pledge when Senator McCain indicated he was willing to restrict himself to the public-financing system. Obama audaciously claimed that his donors had created a “parallel public-financing system” and announced his changed position at a fundraising dinner.

Few Democrats are expressing outrage over Nancy Pelosi’s ever-shifting explanation of what she knew about waterboarding. Those who screamed bloody murder about Jack Abramoff’s crimes avert their eyes from John Murtha. The anti-war movement that opposed the surge in Iraq remains silent about sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Obama will never get as much grief for his gay-marriage views as Miss California.

It’s not about the policies or the politics, and it’s certainly not about the principles. It’s about power, and it has been for a long time.

My Guy Jeremy

Loves cars and has opinions:

“Koenigsegg are saying that the CCX is more comfortable. More comfortable than what… being stabbed?”

“Whenever I’m suffering from insomnia, I just look at a picture of a Toyota Camry and I’m straight off.”

“That [Pagani] Zonda, really! It’s like a lion in orange dungarees. Kind of fierce, but ridiculous all at the same time.”

“A turbo: exhaust gasses go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens
and you go faster.”

"This is a Renault Espace, probably the best of the people carriers. Not that that’s much to shout about. That’s like saying ‘Oh good, I’ve got syphilis, the best of the sexually transmitted diseases!"

21 May 2009


Oh, come on; who doesn't love a surprise?
To build support for the stimulus package, President Obama vowed unprecedented transparency, a big part of which, he said, would be allowing taxpayers to track money to the street level on Recovery.gov. Together with a spruced-up WhiteHouse.gov, the site would inject the stodgy federal bureaucracy with the same Webby accessibility and Facebook-generation flair that defined the Obama campaign.
But three months after the bill was signed, Recovery.gov offers little beyond news releases, general breakdowns of spending, and acronym-laden spreadsheets and timelines. And congressional Democrats, state officials and advocates of open government worry that the White House cannot come close to clearing the high bar it set.

"This is another broken promise by the Obama administration," (Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), said. "We don't have the transparency and the accountability we were promised."
Oh, those damned Republicans; always bugging the benevolent government for some accountability of the peoples' money. Just another day of change we're supposed to believe in, I guess.

20 May 2009

"From" Government; Here to "Help."

It's always more fun to pay for crap with other peoples' money, and then get reelected for it.

When the federal government nationalized the phone system in 1917, justifying it as a wartime measure that would lower costs, it turned it over to the Post Office to run. But despite the promise of lower prices, practically the first thing the Post Office did when it took over was . . . raise prices.

Cost cutting is alien to the culture of all bureaucracies. Indeed, when cost cutting is inescapable, bureaucracies often make cuts that will produce maximum public inconvenience, generating political pressure to reverse the cuts.

Capitalism isn't perfect. Indeed, to paraphrase Winston Churchill's famous description of democracy, it's the worst economic system except for all the others. But the inescapable fact is that only the profit motive and competition keep enterprises lean, efficient, innovative and customer-oriented.

Hat tip to Greg for the link.

19 May 2009

You're Soaking in it.

I am very happy that Tim Pawlenty is still my governor. Without him, I might not be able to afford to live in Minnesota. Now that the legislative session has come to an unceremonious end, it's more evident than ever that Governor Pawlenty is about the only thing keeping the whole herd from leaving the barnyard:
Here's the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.

The tax differential between low-tax and high-tax states is widening, meaning that a relocation from high-tax California or Ohio, to no-income tax Texas or Tennessee, is all the more financially profitable both in terms of lower tax bills and more job opportunities.

Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.
All this economic science and reality is wholly lost on the clowns in the Minnesota legislature who can only see as far as the next constituency they intend to purchase. Once they expand government to a new demographic and make them dependent on the largess, they NEVER retreat.

I was once happy to have Norm Coleman as mayor of St. Paul for the same reason I cherish Pawlenty; if the built-in, institutional, political "progressives" who litter the political scene in Saint Paul specifically and in Minnesota in general are not held in check, the size and price of government will eventually consume revenue and resources to the point that it will be unsustainable.

14 May 2009

This is the Worst Hat I've Ever Seen

But it looks good on YOU, Madam Speaker, though:

If Mrs. Pelosi considers the enhanced interrogation techniques to be torture, didn't she have a responsibility to complain at the time, introduce legislation to end the practices, or attempt to deny funding for the CIA's use of them? If she knew what was going on and did nothing, does that make her an accessory to a crime of torture, as many Democrats are calling enhanced interrogation?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy wants an independent investigation of Bush administration officials. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers feels the Justice Department should investigate and prosecute anyone who violated laws against committing torture. Are these and other similarly minded Democrats willing to have Mrs. Pelosi thrown into their stew of torture conspirators as an accomplice?

13 May 2009

So Much For Transparancy

The message is clear - 'We run the government and have no duty to show you regular slobs how we play the game.'

An extra layer of earmark transparency established by the House Appropriations Committee will not be adopted by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the massive transportation authorization bill the panel plans to take up later this year.

Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) will not require Members to post their earmark wish lists at the time their requests are made, his spokesman said, which was a new Appropriations requirement this year. In a letter sent May 4, (Transportation ranking member John) Mica and Oberstar merely asked Members to “please post requests for projects” on their Web sites.

Oh yea, 'please voluntarily post your own earmark requests on you own site.' I'll bet that'll work great in Washington DC.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said following basic House rules was no longer enough. “The bar has been moved higher by another Democratic chairman,” he said. “The most infamous earmark of all came from this committee, and they aren’t going to be completely transparent. The Appropriations Committee has proven Members can do it — nobody died,” Ellis said.
Oberstar has been mucking up the works for 34 years; turning him out is so overdue.

Is Your State Freedom-Disadvantaged?

In conclusion:
The problem is that the cultural values of liberal governments seem on balance to require more regulation of individual behavior than do the cultural values of conservative governments.

Red Light Cameras - Not Law Enforcement

Pure shakedown:

Austin has joined various cities in installing cameras to catch speeders. They nailed 36 violators who just happen to be police officers running lights. The officers were not responding to a call. None of them were ticketed.

During the same period, Ausitn motorists were ticketed 6,800 times.

I'll bet the clods who run your town are right now salivating at the prospect of gathering fines from thousands and thousands motorists. More here.

09 May 2009

Worst Mother's Day Ever

I sure hope Lora Hunt has the finest manicure of Earth, because her vanity has already trumped human life for what she values:

Anita Zaffke died May 2 -- while wearing the same yellow jacket -- after her motorcycle was hit at a Wauconda stoplight by a Chevrolet Impala driven by Lora Hunt, Lake County sheriff's police said. Hunt, a 48-year-old grandmother from far southwest suburban Morris, told police she was painting her nails at the time. Officers found red nail polish splattered on the Impala's deployed airbag, said Lake County Sgt. Chris Thompson.

Hunt was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Lake County prosecutors now are studying the case to see if they can upgrade the charges. But under the wording of the current law, it's unclear if a crime occurred.
Unclear if a crime occurred - oh, how I long for the days of frontier justice.

Devastated by not only his mother's death but the way she died, Greg Zaffke, 31, painted the fingernails on his right hand black. He wants people to ask about the polish. He wants to tell them about his mother. Though he wasn't at Thursday's ride, motorcyclists there followed his lead, painting their fingernails in Anita Zaffke's memory.

"Distracted driving charges are nonexistent," he said. "It needs to be stricter so people don't use their car as an office or makeup room."

Rest in peace, Anita. Who know how many more cyclists have to get killed before there are real penalties for the car zombies.

08 May 2009

Yes We Can . . .

. . . do whatever we want, we're the White House:
Lauria represented one of the bondholder firms, Perella Weinberg, which initially rejected the Obama deal that would give the bondholders about 33 cents on the dollar for their secured debts while giving the United Auto Workers retirees about 50 cents on the dollar for their unsecured debts.

This, of course, is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors — those who loaned money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they'd get specific property back — get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything.

The White House denied that it strong-armed Perella Weinberg. The firm issued a statement saying it decided to accept the settlement, but it pointedly did not deny that it had been threatened by the White House. Which is to say, the threat worked.

Think carefully about what's happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?

Paying a Premium for Childlike Treatment

If you're like me, you LOVE IT when the all-wise legislature takes your tax money and spends it on things that you will not know about until it's too late:
Some of Minnesota's biggest unions and construction companies are pushing a plan to use state loan guarantees and tax breaks to kick-start a building industry that has been staggered by the recession. But they are keeping under wraps a list of projects that might benefit from it.

With 10 days left before the Legislature's deadline to adjourn, the plan's supporters said that key legislators had been shown a list of projects that might go forward should the fast-moving bill be adopted. The list, however, is not being made public -- a move that is raising some eyebrows over what the Legislature might be financing.

House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, who introduced the proposal on Monday in the House, said Thursday that he had not yet seen the list of projects.
Sertich: "Hey everyone; vote for my thing! What's in it? I don't know!"
Dick Anfang, president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, said the list of possible projects would not be released because doing so would release proprietary information, such as what land parcels an individual developer might be buying to build on. "It may never be released," he said.
I'm always more comfortable when a big labor boss decides whether or not any taxpayers will know anything about on what things their tax money is going to be spent.
(House Taxes Committee chair Ann Lenczewski) said the tax increment extensions in the bill could be expensive for taxpayers, and could amount to as much as $1 billion in diverted property taxes at a time when communities may need increased revenues to fund their budgets.
Wow, what a GREAT time it is for that!

"We should be doing what we can," said Sertich. "Not everything in the bill is popular, and not everything in the bill will probably gain the support of the governor and the Legislature."
Not everything in the bill will be popular with THE PEOPLE either, you fink, but who will know until it's too late since this whole thing is a payoff to big labor? The Minnesota legislature - now there's a governing body that is open, accountable and can be trusted to make any manner of decisions about my like FOR ME!!

Just keep walking through your lives like a zombie, Minnesota; we're in very good hands when the legislature is in session.

07 May 2009

Nobody Does it Better

Trooper 1 - "That guy's going 76; should we pull him over?"
Trooper 2 - "It's just a Camry. Let's wait for a nicer car."

Once the paperwork was complete, the 425-horsepower vehicle -- which had an as-new base price of $38,000 -- was handed over for the personal use of Ron Cooley, 56, the Executive Director of the Illinois State Police Merit Board. Taxpayers also pick up the fuel tab for gas-guzzling 6.1 liter V-8 as he drives to and from work each day and on various business trips.

The mission of the Illinois State Police Merit Board is to remove political influence and provide a fair and equitable merit process for the selection of Illinois State trooper candidates and the promotion and discipline of Illinois State Police officers," the board website explains.

So much fir all that 'stated mission' shit. There's government corruption under every stone, but which state can ever hope to compete with Illinois for crooked state institutions as an institution?

06 May 2009

The Dogs We Pass By.

Always sad to lose a dog, even when it's not your own. It does, however, bring out some of the best writing people are capable of:
When Beth found him at the Atlanta Humane Society, she'd gone in looking for "a brown hound," in her words. She'd promised her then-landlord that her new dog would weigh no more than 30 pounds. When she found Bob in his kennel, aquiver with excitement over meeting a new person, she said, "Roll over!", and he did. She chose him on the spot, despite his rarely weighing less than 50 pounds on his lightest day. Bob never rolled over on command again for the rest of his life. He was not a show dog or a highly-trained canine genius, but he did have a great sense of timing.

05 May 2009

Privacy Where You Least Expect it.

Here's what I can recall:

She has a hard time pooping in the past but hopes diet will change that. She doesn't like the pills she takes; they stick in her throat. The last prescription cost too much and wants to switch to a cheaper one. The doctor was nicer to her yesterday than the last time, and she'll need another appointment in two weeks. Her son is seeing someone she doesn't like (Linda?). Later this week she'll be at Grand Casino; didn't catch if she was talking Hinckley Or Mille Lacs.

Beyond that I can tell you that she should consider something that resembles exercise and two tires on her Stratus need air big time. Why am I telling you all this?

This morning I went to go see my doctor for a tetanus shot and a good-old check up. Mine was the first appointment of the day. I was 10 minutes early and there was only one car in the parking lot, so I entered and (CRAZY ME!) walked to the counter to tell the staff I was there. There, a woman wearing that too-busy medical assistant garb was standing at the counter talking to another woman sitting at the computer and phone array. After waiting for maybe 30 seconds for one of them to say "hi, good morning, may I help you?" I got the scowl of the century from the woman standing at the counter and "do you need something immediately because this is a private conversation!" Turns out color-explosion smock lady doesn't actually work there, she was a patient . . . who just happens to dress like that, apparently because she chooses to(?). Yikes.

Truthfully, I was lost in my own daydreaming when I came in and didn't actually hear what she was saying to the other woman. Once she snapped I actually did start paying attention. She clearly didn't understand that I confused her with someone who worked there, which is like confusing blue-uniformed, badge-wearing people with guns and handcuffs who drive black & white cars with police officers; perfectly reasonable.

Rather than using available wit to show her up in manner that would scar her for life, I took a seat about 15 feet away, where I could hear everything she was saying as plain as if I was still standing at the counter since she made no effort to keep her voice down.

So, bottom line; my recounting of what she was trying to keep 'secret' is just me being petulant and, in a way, calling out another one of those lousy people we all have to encounter. She should perhaps take 5 seconds to look in the mirror, stop shopping at the nurses' supply store and get a clue about how to function in civil society.

04 May 2009

No Sense of Shame, Irony, or Humor

Tell me this wasn't done with a straight face:
(Obama thanked) Geithner and Rangel . . . for helping crack down on tax cheats? What's next, a ceremony on the importance of accurate information in public-health communication, thanking Joe Biden?
A transcript of the charade is here.

02 May 2009

Looking Back at Derby Day

Looking way back with an old friend:
We could always load up on acid and spend the day roaming around the clubhouse grounds with big sketch pads, laughing hysterically at the natives and swilling mint juleps so the cops wouldn’t think we’re abnormal. Perhaps even make the act pay: set up an easel with a big sign saying, ‘Let a Foreign Artist Paint Your Portrait, $10 Each. Do It NOW!

But now, looking at the big red notebook I carried all through that scene, I see more or less what happened. The book itself is somewhat mangled and bent; some of the pages are torn, others are shriveled and stained by what appears to be whiskey, but taken as a whole, with sporadic memory flashes, the notes seem to tell the story…