Friday, December 29, 2006
"Pick fights with Republicans, not Democrats. - Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California" (quoting USA Today here)
However, in a triumph for hypocrisy this same newspaper made the classic call for "bipartisan progress" in a post-November 7th election editorial which I have excerpted below:
"But even accounting for the unusual circumstances, Bush's picks are troubling. In the days after tide-turning elections, the two parties examine each other's signals to gauge where they might work together and where they will clash. Some of these picks seem like the political equivalent of a poke in the eye to the incoming majority. They could signal a state of denial about the Nov. 7 thumping, or a reluctance by Bush to move to the political center. In either case, they're not an encouraging portent for bipartisan progress."
So which is it USA Today? President Bush should make appointments to key offices that are pre-approved by the Democratic Congress or do you want Speaker-elect Pelosi to "pick fights with Republicans...." ?
Let us call on the Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress to resolve to eliminate personal income taxes -- now that would be a fantastic "living wage" for everyone.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) political party has declared "color television is a basic necessity" so they have distributed 60,000 TV sets so far and will distribute another 30,000 sets in the near future. DMK won elections in May 2006 that brought them to power on the promise of free TVs to the poor residents of Tamil Nadu.
What an amazing coincidence because following Christmas dinner with family friends this week we discussed a range of issues including immigration, war, and poverty -- yes, great Christmas themes I admit!! -- at which point I made the point that "nearly 95% of US households have TVs so what is truly 'poverty' today?" I too want poverty eliminated by not via "solutions" proposed by people like John "Two Americas" Edwards (http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com) which include mandating a "living wage" -- economic growth and entrepreneurs is what the world needs not more government programs.
As for Mr. Marx he was the original welfare queen since his family lived primarily from Friedrich Engel's income derived from the family business in Manchester, UK so Marx called for a revolution while enjoying the fruits of capitalism - the very system he was fighting. For reference please see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx under "Family life".
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Despite the Saturday Night Live skits portraying President Ford as a clumsy idiot -- which of course he wasn't as evidenced by his football career at the perennial football powerhouse, University of Michigan -- I always had a good feeling about President Ford. He clearly had the "I could drink a beer with that guy" quality so often sought by voters.
President Ford's death this week overshadowed an op-ed/open letter really from Adam Hochschild, author of "King Leopold's Ghost: a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa". Hochschild originally wrote this op-ed for the Los Angeles Times but it was also published in my local newspaper. Hochschild's op-ed draws a parallel between King Leopold II of Belgium's brutal colonization of the "Belgian Congo" in Africa and President George W. Bush's current occupation of Iraq.
Having lived/worked in Belgium and having worked with several Africans I do not believe Hochschild comparison between Leopold and Bush is entirely accurate but this is not the focus of my posting today. In his op-ed Hochschild states that, "Lyndon B. Johnson, entered politics as a traditional segregationist but ended up doing more for civil rights than any American president of this century."
You are WRONG on both points Mr. Hochschild regarding President Johnson.
President Johnson robbed American taxpayers by creating a mish-mash of social welfare programs collectively known as the "Great Society" which ultimately created a modern day "plantation" system via public housing projects, food stamps, and government jobs programs for the nation's poor which were predominantly black/African-American.
If you don't believe this please read a copy of my friend, Star Parker's (a black woman/former "welfare queen" now a limited government activist) excellent book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation" which destroys the myth that the "Great Society" helped America's poor. Bottom line -- President Johnson used federal tax dollars to move the nation's poor to housing projects and managed all aspects of the residents' lives via federal programs.
Mr. Hochschild needs to read a few books himself (as he suggests to President Bush in his op-ed) such as Hayek's classic tome -- "The Road to Serfdom"
Habitat (www.habitat.org) not HUD,
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
1. New Hampshire
5. New Jersey
Based on this top ten list let me offer the following observations:
1.) Minnesota and Iowa - (my adopted and home states) are ranked #2 and #3 of course. My selfish concern is that people will flee the coastal areas for these Great Plains/Upper Midwest states for the "good life" but given the negative connotations that I have seen people give to my beloved "Iowa" this migration is a VERY small fear of mine.
2.) New Hampshire - this state was selected by the "Free State Project" (http://freestateproject.org/) to be the official state where freedom-loving people would relocate to in order to create a "critical mass" of such people that would enable a popular political revolution to reduce government in order to maximize individual liberties.
Enjoy your home,
Bono of course is Irish and Ireland and the United Kingdom have a bloody shared history which continues today as the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland where Catholics and Protestants continue to kill each other -- apparently religious intolerance and poverty are more welcome in Belfast versus peace and prosperity. The VERY first thing I thought of when I read of Bono's knighthood was the lyrics of U2's 1983 song, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" which follow below --
"Broken bottles under childrens' feet. Bodies strewn across the dead end street."
This song was written about the religious killings in Northern Ireland so I was shocked Bono's quote (via his spokesman) was focused on "Africa" not "Northern Ireland" given his heritage and musical history.
Merry Christmas to Belfast,
Now I am descended from German-American farmers (why don't we use this title like African-Americans?) so I am probably not sensitive enough but I have to think that "Fighting Sioux" is a term of respect especially based on the Native American Indian history that I studied during my years as a Boy Scout -- we were taught respect for their heritage not racist thoughts but I digress :-) Last week I read that the University of Minnesota's (UOM) Advisory Committee on Athletics asked the Minnesota Gophers athletic department (www.gophersports.com) to "make every effort to avoid scheduling HOME EVENTS with schools that use American Indian mascots".
The Gophers' athletic department then announced that the UOM would not compete with UND in any sports "EXCEPT FOR MEN'S AND WOMEN'S HOCKEY because of the school's Fighting Sioux nickname." Well..............................so the Gophers can play a football game in Grand Forks, North Dakota or a hockey game in Minneapolis against the Fighting Sioux but playing a basketball game against the Fighting Sioux IN Minneapolis is verboten ("forbidden" for you non-German speakers)!!!!
What a crazy, patch work quilt athletic policy!!! My speculation is that this exception exists simply because hockey games generate CASH and the other sports don't for the UOM thus allowing the Gophers to make a statement against "racist nicknames" but can still improve their balance sheets.
I am waiting for an official response from the UOM's Athletic Department so I can post their comments here but a follow up question I have for them is -- so will you ban your fellow Big Ten Conference university, University of Illinois "Fighting Illini " (an Indian tribe for readers that don't know) from competing against the Gophers in Minneapolis unless they change their nickname?
You can't be half-pregnant Gophers,
Friday, December 22, 2006
I first heard of this story yesterday while listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows -- Garage Logic -- http://www.surfmusic.de/radio-station/kstp-am-1500,6137.html where the Mayor of Gumption County and his listeners dispense common sense solutions to everyday issues thereby eliminating the need for more government programs. But I digress :-) Regarding Mr. Warren the conversation on Garage Logic noted that when he began his weight loss program he could not do one push up but the Ohio County Sheriff's Office's physical fitness requirements call for recruits to perform 18 push ups. Following his weight loss/deputy process Mr. Warren reports he can perform 30 push ups and run 1.5 miles in 16 minutes which is pretty respectable.
Now don't get me wrong I commend Mr. Warren for taking command of his personal life -- no where in the media accounts of his story did I see any evidence of a government program to help obese people, etc. Although I can't help but conclude that there must be a shortage of personnel to become deputies since Ohio County clearly had to wait :) for Mr. Warren to lose his weight before they could hire him. Since it is clear that US soldiers/sailors/airmen will be headed home from Iraq before the 2008 elections I assume that hundreds/perhaps thousands of these veterans will be seeking employment when they return home due to their tours of duty being concluded or sadly because they lost their job at home due to the long absence in Iraq (which it apparently illegal but bad things happen).
Let me encourage our law enforcement community to actively recruit these returning veterans to become police officers given their military training and physical fitness credentials. Given the large amount of "homeland security" funds distributed by the US Congress I am certain that city and county governments have funds available for hiring our veterans.
Congratulations Deputy Warren,
Thursday, December 21, 2006
As regular SpaceBeagle readers know I OPPOSE minimum wage laws for numerous reasons but here are some quick bullet points to get your thinking or angry depending on the welfare state of your mind:
- My first job paid me $1.20 per hour washing dishes. I am only 41 years old so no this was not during the Great Depression which I note for readers given the sad state of our public school system which primarily teaches "social studies" versus "history" courses. This hourly rate and the nasty nature of the work inspired me to study well in school, read a lot of books, and go to university so I could avoid having a career in this field :)
- Minimum wages are completely arbitrary since they are set by Congress and state legislatures based on political deal making NOT based on any economic models or excellent job performance by individuals.
- Minimum wages are collectivist in nature -- why should Fred or Barb who work next to you in the assembly line be paid the same that you are when you are busting your ass to earn a promotion to line supervisor and on up the corporate ladder to provide a good life for your children?
- Minimum wages come as a "gift" from the government not because of personal achievement thus it moves people further along the "Road to Serfdom" (a book by economist Friedrich Hayek which was probably banned from your public school library).
But enough of my speechifying :) Let me offer President Bush's quote that he provided to justify this unnecessary intrusion into the economy by the government:
"So I support pairing it (wage increase) with targeted tax and regulatory relief to help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy growing."
Targeted? That means government chooses the winners and losers in the economy not consumers. Regulatory relief? Telling a busy what it MUST pay its workers if NOT regulatory relief Mr. President.
The era of Big Government appears never to have died President Clinton,
Since Miss USA agreed to go to rehab to treat her alcohol intake the journalists covering the story noted all the celebrities who have entered rehab recently such as Mel Gibson which received substantial "news coverage" in Star Magazine --
Personally, I don't watch the entertainment TV channels and my wife's People magazine is not on my regular reading list but I do see a societal need for celebrities to help bring attention to life's various challenges and diseases.
Christopher Reeve is perhaps the perfect example to support my statement because honestly, who ever discussed the term, "neuro recovery" , on CNN or in your local coffee shop until Superman fell off his horse? http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.geIMLPOpGjF/b.899265/k.CC03/Home.htm
Also, this week it was reported that First Lady Laura Bush (for a preview of the 2008 elections please check my new blog at -- http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com) recently had surgery for skin cancer which will help drive a focus on skin care issues and treatments I am certain.
Overall celebrities not only entertain the general population their tradegies/personal challenges also impact the health and welfare of the nation. Of course there are both positives and negatives to this conclusion but overall I see more good than bad being produced by such a phenomenon since unknown/faceless patients benefit when a well known celebrity falls ill with the same disease.
Dark indeed but hopeful,
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
1. Utah -- 48%
2. Nebraska - 43%
3. Minnesota - 41%
4. Iowa - 39%
5. Alaska - 39%
6. Wyoming - 39%
7. South Dakota - 39%
8. Kansas - 39%
9. Vermont - 38%
10. Montana - 38%
Source: Volunteering in America, State Trends and Rankings, and Corporation for National and Community Service
Based on these rankings let me offer the following observations:
1.) Utah has the highest percentage of citizens volunteering at nearly 50% which suggests that nearly ONE HALF OF AMERICANS aren't volunteering to do anything. Perhaps they are watching too much TV -- please note my posting here "Census Statistics" at http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com/ - regarding our couch potato culture.
2.) 8 out of 10 of these states are located in "fly over country" -- meaning they are not part of the East or West coasts' cultural elites which is the home of the limosine liberals that prefer taking our tax dollars so government can "help people" by giving grants to organizations.
3.) Minnesota and Iowa -- my home states are ranked at #3 and #4 respectively which makes me very proud.
Since Christmas is upon us why not consider helping a homeless family by volunteering to build a home for a family via Habitat for Humanity? www.habitat.org
Help the needy,
Monday, December 18, 2006
During the game I leaned over to tell Pete my prediction that -- "..........by the 2018 NFL season all teams will have the same season win/loss record since the league insists on PARITY not competition........." It is this NFL policy that inspired me to coin the phrase "sports socialism" since the socialist model is to use centralized authority (the Commissioner's office and the NFL team owners in this case -- the "politburo") to equalize everything. I would rather see a dominant football team when the Super Bowl with a perfect season record rather than today's current situation this week where the bulk of NFL teams have .500 win/loss records. Where the excitement in such a world??
Personally having studied and worked in Europe for nearly 4 years of my life I can honestly say there is not a lot the USA can learn from the European model in terms of economics and politics. However, in terms of sports I do love the "relegation" system used in football/soccer in the United Kingdom. In this system all football/soccer teams that finish in the bottom tier of their league are "relegated" to the next lower level league which is completely devastating financially and for loyal fans BUT the system does drive competition in the sport which provides a much better product for the sports fans.
My friends and colleagues know that I love football so they will understand that I want to help save the NFL from becoming the MFL -- the "Mediocre Football League" -- by suggesting they give up their policy of parity to adopt some form of "relegation" to inject some true competition back into the sport.
Arena Bowl is July 29,
Saturday, December 16, 2006
1980 -- $2.4 billion
1990 -- $20 billion
2000 -- $37.2 billion
2005 -- $47.4 billion
That is a grand total of US$107 billion since 1980 just on lotteries!!!
As I have said over the years to anyone willing to listen -- "giving the government more money voluntarily is the equivalent to buying an alcoholic another drink" -- it just does not help the situation at all.
We landed in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city then drove our rental car north to the Bay of Islands to tour the area including Cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea spills into the Pacific Ocean. Our tour included a drive on "Ninety Mile Beach" and sledding on sand dunes.
The next portion of our trip included scuba diving in the Tutukaka area which is the marina (not much else in this "town") near to Poor Knights Island. The water was a bit cold but the diving was very nice especially at Blue Mau Mau Cavern which was filled with a school of mau mau fish. Following diving we drove to the Roroturo/ Lake Taupo areas to enjoy the geothermal baths, spas, sailing, hiking, and great restaurants such as "Pimento's" in Lake Taupo which was just excellent. Given our overall dining experience I would give them a "5" just like I did for "Elements" in Phoenix -- really a quality business. Apparently I was driving too fast on this portion of our trip since we received a speeding ticket this week from the New Zealand police. The letter stated that "approved vehicle surveillance equipment" that I have to guess was mounted in one of the police cars we saw driving in the opposite direction -- and here I thought it was a nice letter from the New Zealand Department of Tourism asking how we enjoyed our trip!!!!
The driving portion of our trip ended in the capital city - Wellington - which is my kind of city since it is a port city built on a hill. We toured the parliament building, the botanic garden, and their national museum/art gallery known as "Te Papa" which is a must see if you are in Wellington. The exhibits on maori (the first settlers who paddled canoes from Polynesia to New Zealand) culture were very interesting along with the geological history since New Zealand is dominated by volcanic activity.
From Wellington we flew back to Auckland for one last night on the town which included a visit to "Minus 5" which is a bar completely made out of ice. The bar's cover charge includes the use of a parka and gloves so overall we were comfortable as we drank from mugs made of solid ice.
No doubt I overlooked some of the highlights but trust my wife will chime in with her own observations -- yes, dear the sky tower in Auckland was another great tour!! -- but in summary let me say that we enjoyed every city and venue we visited except Frank's Pizza in Russell which was rather mediocre so a "1" on my 5 point ranking scale. The people of New Zealand are very personable and the country just "feels" as if it is well run in terms of business and government services.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I wish Mr. Ban well as he manages the UN's $5 billion budget and 92,000 (currently) peace keeper soldiers complete with their baby/powder blue helmets -- easy targets!! But for Mr. Annan let me say, "you have have left 10 years ago!!!", since you have allowed or even encouraged (the legal system and US Congress are still deciding) a whole range of people including your son to use the UN as a personal slush fund to rob taxpayers around the world of their money. The Iraq "food for oil" scandal is a glaring example. May your retire include a prison sentence for being asleep at the wheel of this broken ship we call the UN.
As I noted earlier Mr. Annan is a native of Ghana which you can see an overview here from our friends at the CIA :-)
Here is a quote from this website:
"Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 34% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders."
Instead of Mr. Annan the UN should have selected a SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENUER from the African continent -- Mo Ibrahim of Sudan -- who is a multibillionaire who founded "Celtel" , an African telecom company. Mr. Ibrahim has created the "Ibrahim Prize" which is a cash prize that will be given to one retiring African head of state (president, prime minister, etc.) who "was elected fairly, improved living standards, and transferred power peacefully to successors." The prize pays $500,000 per year for the first 10 years of private life and then $200,000 thereafter.
"Secretary General Ibrahim" has a very nice ring to it sadly the UN has overlooked hiring such a talented and visionary person opting instead for the career bureaucrat Mr. Annan who will likely join the speaker circuit to lend his "wisdom" to others. That is a lecture I will plan to miss!!
Move the UN,
Thursday, December 14, 2006
SBN has expanded its operations by creating two new blog subsidiaries of the parent corporation. These blogs include:
http://firstspouses2008.blogspot.com/ -- this blog is focused on the "spouses/partners/lovers/single-ness (is that a word?)" of the 2008 presidential candidates so we better understand the candidates' "better halves"
http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com/ -- since I love reading books SBN always included comments about book related news such as "Banned Books Week" and my review of books I read during the past year -- to be posted on December 31st -- this new blog creates a more focused forum for discussing books
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
One woman I work with for these conferences -- "ML" I will call her -- has a very challenging personal history which includes:
-being hit by 14 drunk drivers
-having her condo building burn down twice
-fighting cancer twice via radiation
-being in an airplane accident where the woman next to her had her arm severed
BUT..........I challenge anyone to find a most positive, energetic, loving (she has 20 god children she is in constant contact with despite her health issues) person than ML. She really makes me think twice about bitching about things that go wrong in my life -- in reality I have VERY little to complain about in my life.
The other great people I met during my travels includes the entire staff (those I met at least) at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport Marriott Hotel. Clearly "southern hospitality" begins in Kentucky :)
Finally, since I have attacked the airlines in the past due to travel/customer service problems let me personally think Delta and Northwest Airlines for switching my ticket from Delta to Northwest last night so I could return home to Minnesota two hours earlier than planned!! The two ladies that I worked with to make this flight switch were very professional and helpful so for that I want to thank them.
Monday, December 11, 2006
That said, I am now able to post comments again on SpaceBeagleNotes which is exciting since I always seem to have something to say :-)
I look forward to getting back into my daily posting routine and reviewing readers' posted comments.
This week I have been on the road in Arizona and Kentucky working on state legislative issues but I did have some free time on Sunday to see a movie. Unfortunately I chose to see the mockumentary, "Borat", which was not as funny as I was led to believe. I would really enjoy getting my money refunded but that is impossible.
More later as I get back up to speed on posting,