The EU

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Banned in Dracut

There was recent news out of some county in Wisconsin where the Republicans have been banned from the Labor Day Parade. 

Now comes Dracut disinviting the Republican Town Committee, as a Committee, from Old Home Day.  The Home Page for Dracut Old Home Day can be found here.

Shawn writes:
I’m told that the deposit for a table at Old Home Day from the Dracut Republican Town committee was returned because the committee running the event has decided not to allow political activity.
What happened to all that civility we were going to have after the murder of that Federal Judge and the shooting of Representative Gabby Gifford?  Banning doesn't enhance civility.

UPDATE:  "The Marathon County Labor Council has reversed a decision that excluded Republican politicians from participating in the Labor Day parade in Wausau."  I loved this line from Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple:
Sure. Anything can happen. It's America. You can really kinda do anything you want. You could have a tea party and anybody can show up. I would think that at the end of the parade, people could do anything they wanted to.
It's America!  And I am proud to be a part of it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Bill Keller's Questions on Religion

With a picture of people with up-reaching arms, Mr Bill Keller published an article on the religious faith of some of the candidates for President of these United States.  The article can be found here, where it appeared with a 25 August dateline, but for the 28 August print issue of The New York Times Magazine.

The actual questions appeared in a blog, here.  They came out with a August 25, 2011, 3:37 PM, dateline and "Tougher Questions for the Candidates" as the headline.
In my latest column, I wrote about asking our presidential candidates more questions regarding their religious beliefs.  Here’s the general questionnaire I sent to the candidates:
And thus follows the questions and my responses.  I provide my responses now, in case come April I find myself on City Life, and overwhelmed by a sense of angst concerning the Republican field, I shout into the microphone, "I've had it.  Drop the others and take me!"  (If the Democrats find themselves in the same position, as I expect they will, they should feel free to use my responses.)

1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?
If one is asking like a Sunday School teacher, no.  Otherwise, yes, everything is fair, especially if the reporter is taking a partisan stand.  However, ignorance on the part of the candidate with regard to the question or doctrinal issue should not be taken as acceptance by the candidate of the reporter's view of the doctrinal point.

2. Is it fair to question candidates about controversial remarks made by their pastors, mentors, close associates or thinkers whose books they recommend?
Absolutely.  On the other hand, just because I recommend On War doesn't mean I agree with everything that Dead Karl has said, or everything others have said he said.

3. (a) Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a “Christian nation” or “Judeo-Christian nation?”
By and large.

3. (b) What does that mean in practice?
In practice it means less than it would appear.  Part of who we are comes from our Judeo-Christian background, just as it also comes from Greek and Roman roots, and an Anglo-Saxon understanding of Common Law and the Rights of Englishmen.  It is sad that our citizens don't have more of an appreciation for these roots, which played such a strong roll in forming us into the nation we are.

4. (a) If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it?
Scripture says to render unto Caeser's what is Caeser's and to God what is God's.

4. (b) Has that happened, in your experience?
No, not in my personal experience.  The real question to ask is if one can cite past situations where this happened and how it was resolves, and how it should have been resolved.  Perhaps one might cite Claus von Stauffenberg or General Robert E Lee.  Maybe Robert E Lee is a bad example.  What about Thomas More?

5. (a) Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench?
Who is this person?  No one comes to the nomination process without a background, without a record.  Where does he or she see the US Constitution standing vis-a-vie Sharia?  A position that would see Sharia as being the law for some or all Muslims in the US would be a negative for me.  On the other hand, a thirst for justice for all, nourished by studying Sharia might be a positive.

5. (b) What about an atheist?
What is this atheist's stand on the First Amendment?

6. (a) Are Mormons Christians, in your view?
No, but so what?  The US military groups Mormon Chaplains as Christians and that seems to work just fine.

6 (b) Should the fact that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons influence how we think of them as candidates?
Absolutely not.

7. What do you think of  the evangelical Christian movement known as Dominionism and the idea that Christians, and only Christians, should hold dominion over the secular institutions of the earth?
I think that this idea is mistaken.  At some level it is an idea that many groups appropriate.  For example, Mohammad Badei, the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Leader, has asserted that only Muslims should lead a state.  There are those who think only the educated elite from the Ivy League should lead the United States.  All such ideas are mistaken.  Wherever this kind of idea is present it should be rejected by those who believe in Democracy and the unalienable rights of each individual.

8. (a) What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution?
It is what the evidence shows.

8. (b) Do you believe it should be taught in public schools?
Why not?  It is what the scientific evidence shows.  Is not the real question whether "Creationism", in some form, should also be taught in schools, and the fear of that on the part of some?

9. Do you believe it is proper for teachers to lead students in prayer in public schools?
No.  On the other hand, I am not against invocations at graduations or valedictorians giving God, or even Jesus (or even Mohammed) credit for their success.

Here endeth the lesson from Mr Keller.

Regards  —  Cliff

Where We Find Our Strength

"When all is said and done, the real citadel of strength of any community is in the hearts and minds and desires of those who dwell there."
Everett Dirksen

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roger Williams for Congress

At least he has a sense of humor.  The Donkey Whisperer.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Cheney Book

My Middle Brother sent me this item on former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent book.  When the column author used the term "Prince of Darkness" I thought he was referring to Richard Perle.  Apparently not.  However, Mr Perle was part of the Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's management team at the Pentagon.

Not even the inestimable Ms Maureen Dowd, in her column on Sunday, could make the book interesting.

But, during his eight years as VEEP, Mr Cheney made one very important point for all of us to keep in mind.  The Vice President is NOT part of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  The President may make him part of the Kitchen Cabinet, or he may not.  See Harry S Truman as Vice President.

A little distance between the President and the Vice President is always good, in case the Congress decides to Impeach and Convict the President of High Crimes and Misdemeanours.  The VEEP should be outside the frag pattern.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tear and Compare Photos

Over at the Thunder Tales blogspot Blogger Ed Rasimus has a photo of Gov Rick Perry at 22 and President Barack Obama at 22.  Actually, I think it is probably Gov Rick Perry at 23, but lets not quibble.

The thing to note about Governor Perry, then 2nd Lieutenant Perry, is not the shiney T-38, whose ladder he is standing on, nor the "go fast" pants he is wearing (aka G-suit), nor the parachute, nor the brain bucket (aka helmut), but the pocket on his left sleeve.  That is a pencil pocket, where right handed aviators put their pen or pencil.  In a bygone era F-100 pilots had very small models of Samuri Swords, which they could pull out and puncture their one-man life rafts, should they inflate out of their storage place below the pilot, forcing him into the top of the canopy.

But, back to Governor Rick Perry.  What is that white thing sticking out of his pencil pocket (OK, to be fair, in the day there was also a zippered compartment that was just right for holding cigs.).  To me it looks like a spoon.  Do you think that he knew, when this picture was being taken, that he was going to be a truckie, a trash hauler?  That is to say, he knew he was going to give up the supersonic T-38 for a job in the front office of a C-130?  Probably.

And why a spoon?  Because of the Inflight Lunch, the contents of a white cardboard box, about 4 inches high and 5 inches deep and about 8 inches long, filled with food from the Inflight Kitchen, a small operation down on the flight line of many Air Force Bases.  The Inflight Lunch is also know as the Barf Lunch, for reasons I will not go into.  Airlift pilots (and navigators) tended to make sure they had a spoon handy for consuming the Inflight Lunch, in case one didn't show up with the food.  Thus, the ever present "spoon".  The other indication of an airlift pilot or a tanker pilot or a bomber pilot was a knife pocked on the left leg of their flight suit, at thigh level.  Fighter pilots did not have knife pockets on their flight suits, since the survival knife, with the riser line cutting blade open, was in the G-suit (you can see it on Lt Perry's G-suit—that little vertical bulge on his left leg, above the knee).  In the day, for a fighter pilot to show up at the bar with his knife pocket still on his new flight suit was considered déclassé.

Yes, sadly, Governor Rick Perry was a trash hauler back in the day.  But, still a step up from law school student, I guess.  (I should note that in the case of my youngest son, law school was, for him, a step up, because his previous job had been as computer systems admin for a unix based system down at State Street Bank, in Boston.  We all know what we think of the computer sys admin, don't we?  And he got to spend three years in San Diego, and then, for a while, had a job in LA.)

Regards  —  Cliff

Fast and Furious Victims

It is Fox, so it may well be wrong, but, it is reported that the US Attorney for Arizona has resigned.

And, the Acting Director of the ATF.

Regards  —  Cliff

Can We Ever Be Too Safe?

Here is a blog post on the issue of a 5th Grader who was stopped by police for riding her bike to school.  The Police Officer judged the route unsafe.  The Mother demurs.  Child Protective Services appears to have become entangled.

The question is, should the town have a street that is so unsafe that children should not ride on it with their bikes and not have a plan for remediating this danger, assuming there is a danger?

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 29, 2011

Obama Follows Suit in the Middle East

From Columnist Walter Russell Mead we have this, "W Gets A Third Term In The Middle East".  Says it all.

And a Switch Blade photo for NealCroz.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Men Eroding in the Work Force

Male participation in the work force is not very high and wages are sliding.  This is the conclusion of a Business Week article, to be found here.

An extract:
If that sounds bleak, it's because it is. The portion of men who work and their median wages have been eroding since the early 1970s.  For decades the impact of this fact was softened in many families by the increasing number of women who went to work and took up the slack. More recently, the housing bubble helped to mask it by boosting the male-dominated construction trades, which employed millions. When real estate ultimately crashed, so did the prospects for many men.  The portion of men holding a job—any job, full- or part-time—fell to 63.5 percent in July—hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009. These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948.  Among the critical category of prime working-age men between 25 and 54, only 81.2 percent held jobs, a barely noticeable improvement from its low point last year—and still well below the depths of the 1982-83 recession, when employment among prime-age men never dropped below 85 percent. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that in 1969, 95 percent of men in their prime working years had a job.

Men who do have jobs are getting paid less. After accounting for inflation, median wages for men between 30 and 50 dropped 27 percent—to $33,000 a year— from 1969 to 2009, according to an analysis by Michael Greenstone, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor who was chief economist for Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.  "That takes men and puts them back at their earnings capacity of the 1950s," Greenstone says. "That has staggering implications."
Business Week tries to say that if more men went to college more men would have jobs, but a sampling of restaurant front end staff suggests otherwise.  And, we have come to see some low-skill jobs as being for illegal immigrants (undocumented workers for the politically correct).

We have a problem.

And MSNBC sees part of the college education solution in Pell Grants.  That is looking to the Federal Government for a solution.  Why not the individual states reducing tuition for their residents, to make a college education more affordable.  Back in the day, in Long Beach, CA, I could have gone to my local community college (junior college) for the cost of books, locker fees and a parking pass.  Not much more than High School.  And credits box topped to UCLA.  The State College (now University of California, Long Beach) would have been a little more, including a student activity fee.  And it would have been a shorter commute than Long Beach City College.

But, the key to a college education is life skills normally picked up while growing up in a loving and supportive family.  We are back to the culture issue.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Granny State

That is the line in a recent MSNBC article.

And this from an InstaPundit reader:
Grandparents were often the family safety net before the fall of extended families and the rise of the welfare state.  If we’ve come full circle, then… what’s the point of continuing the welfare state? Wondering…
The InstaPundit succumbed to a moment of cynicism:
Empowering politicians and employing bureaucrats, apparently.
Well, as the Sociologists point out, some of those are multi-generational poverty families and there is no family structure.  And, the Government has proven inept at replacing that family structure.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's With "The World"?

I am finding that "The World", as in World Software Tool and Die, is shut down.  I can't get my EMail and their web page won't come up.  I thought they were in Brookline and thus relatively safe from Hurricane Irene.

Having been hard at work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and part of Saturday morning—as in helping to do a proposal for the company I work for, DRC, I bet I have 200 EMails to go through.  I am not making progress while they are shut down.

Yes, we are experiencing major problems from Hurricane Irene.

And, yes, my Mac EMail is still up—mbaring at mac dot com.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Age of the Earth and Unemployment

Over at datechguy blog is a discussion of the candidates for the Republican nomination for President.  He considers all the talk about those "fundamentalists" questioning evolution who are running.  Datechguy, who is not a Protestant Fundamentalist, and who is not a Governor Rick Perry fan, wonders about the focus in the media and elsewhere on issues like how old the earth is.  Succinctly:
Unemployment is 9.1%, the economy is in the tank and you’re worried about a candidate’s position on how old the planet is?
He links to a Bill Keller column in The New York Times, in which Mr Keller mentions his angst about these people with strange religions.  The column is titled "Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith".
We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.
Mr Keller needs to get out more.  Mormons are suspect?  Maybe in terms of if they are a branch of Christianity, but in my experience they are just neighbors or coworkers or a college roommate.  Baptists?  Sure, they think they are the only ones who are going to be saved, but so what?  A lot of us think we have found the truth, including a whole bunch of seculars.  So here is the kernel of Mr Keller's concern:
It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.”
So, we are back to the age of planet earth, or the universe perhaps.  I have always been puzzled by folks on both sides of the argument who are not prepared to acknowledge that if the universe was created, rather than erupted spontaneously, that the creator would probably have given it some pre-history.  Put another way, did all those trees in the Garden of Eden lack tree rings?

Another way of looking at it is that I have, in an infinite number of universes, written this particular blog post and in an infinite number of universes I have not.  Or, maybe this is the only universe there ever was or ever will be.  Who will explain it to me?  Who will show me the link from this universe to the next?

Which brings us back to today and the 9.1% unemployment rate (and all those folks who have stopped looking for work)?  And, in a scientifically based world, what is the scientifically based answer to fixing the economy?

Last night I asked our waiter at the Olive Garden, a man with an Economics Degree, working at State Street Bank, as well as waiting our table, if he thought Lord Keynes had the answers.  He demurred and claimed to be with the Classical School.

If F A Hayek is right and Lord Keynes is wrong and we continue down the path of stimulus we are in deep trouble.  And if Lord Keynes is right, is the stimulus we need the size of what finally got us out of the Great Depression, in 1942 and 1943?  How does workplace regulation, safety and environmental laws, impact the growth of business?

We have the Chicago School and we have Robert Reich, who wrote The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, which I read about ten years ago.  Where is the agreed science?

To complicate the issue the sociologists have recently weighed in.
While religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, the rate of decline has been more than twice as high for those without college degrees compared to those who graduated from college, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

"Our study suggests that the less educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market," said lead researcher W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.
Wait, isn't it supposed to be the poor and ignorant who are the religious?

It only gets worse—and I note that these are sociologists and thus we are dealing with correlations and not necessarily causations.
Indeed, the study points out that modern religious institutions tend to promote a family-centered morality that valorizes marriage and parenthood, and they embrace traditional middle-class virtues such as self-control, delayed gratification, and a focus on education.

Over the past 40 years, however, the moderately educated have become less likely to hold familistic beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college-educated adults.  During the same period, wages have fallen and rates of unemployment have risen markedly for moderately educated men, while wages have remained stagnant for moderately educated women.  For the least educated—those without high school degrees—the economic situation has been even worse, and they have also become less likely to hold familistic beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college-educated adults.

Because less educated whites are now less likely to be stably employed, to earn a decent income, to be married with children, and to hold familistic views, it makes sense that they also do not as often attend services at religious institutions that continue to uphold conventional norms, Wilcox said.

"While we recognize that not everyone wishes to worship, and that religious diversity can be valuable, we also think that the existence of a large group of less educated Americans that is increasingly disconnected from religious institutions is troubling for our society," said Andrew Cherlin, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology and public policy at the Johns Hopkins University.  "This development reinforces the social marginalization of less educated Americans who are also increasingly disconnected from the institutions of marriage and work."
To me that seems to be saying that there is a correlation between stable families, jobs, education and religion.

As Columnist Walter Russell Mead notes in his blog, this is turning things on their head.
The stereotype, held apparently by none other than the President of the United States, is that religious people are less educated and less affluent than cosmopolitan and sophisticated seculars.  The bitter clingers handle snakes, guns and Bibles in West Virginia; the seculars discuss literature and economics at swank parties in Georgetown.

In fact, some recent research reveals, it is almost the other way round.  According to the American Sociological Association, the uneducated and the poor (often of course the same people) are dropping God like a hot brick; the ‘bitter clingers’ are increasingly better educated and more affluent than the unchurched.

As far as I can see, this is bad news for everybody.  Atheists and agnostics like to think of themselves as smarter than the God-bothering trailer trash on Tobacco Road, and deeply dislike the thought that they are losing the argument among the most intellectually qualified and best prepared; religious people have to be concerned for the future of religion when whole social classes are dropping away.

It is also very bad news for the poor.  The rich can actually get along without much religion; one of the nice things about being rich is that money can frequently shield you from the consequences of a weak character and bad decisions.
On the other hand, the "left" can take comfort in the findings of Scientist James Q Wilson, where, in the latest issue of City Journal he looks at crime rates (which are going down during this economic downturn).  He also brings in the above mentioned American Sociological Association paper.  Both suggest that culture is a factor to be considered.

As Professor Wilson goes through the possible reasons for the recent decrease in crime the one at the end of the list, which may be most convincing, is eugenics.  Now in this day and age, after the German experiment in eugenics in the late 1930s and the first half of the 1940s we don't use that term, but that is what he is talking about. We are wiping out millions of Black and Caucasian babies before they are born and before they can grow up and begin a life of crime and procreate more like themselves.

In his final paragraph Professor Wilson says:
Culture creates a problem for social scientists like me, however. We do not know how to study it in a way that produces hard numbers and tested theories. Culture is the realm of novelists and biographers, not of data-driven social scientists. But we can take some comfort, perhaps, in reflecting that identifying the likely causes of the crime decline is even more important than precisely measuring it.
Maybe "science" isn't the total answer.  But, I am much, much more interested in the economic views of the candidates than I am in their views regarding how old the earth is or if evolution explains everything.  And, in truth, I am also very interested in their views on Israel and the Jews and others who live there.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit for the link to datechguy.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In the military Mormon Chaplains are classified with the Christians, as opposed to the Jews, or as an independent group.
  Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts there was a chance he would have run for Governor, but the Democrats voted for another.

Signaling One's Intent

Yesterday afternoon my wife dispatched me to the store to purchase a few things before the Hurricane struck.  Enroute I came south on Fairmount Street and turned right around the Oakland Fire Station, with the intent of turning left onto Rogers Street.  The light at Rogers Street turned green and the opposing traffic began to move, with cars with blinking right turn signals turning right in front of me.  Then, as the traffic cleared a larger suburban assault vehicle entered the box, faking left, but then putting on its right turn signal and going right.

I, seeing the fake left, began to execute my left hand turn, but quickly checked myself upon the appearance of the now flashing turn signal.  I was left to wonder what that driver was thinking.  After considering some alternatives I settled on the driver being someone who understands the Declaration of Independence as naming "certain unalienable rights, that among these are the right to drive like one owns the road."

Regards  —  Cliff

  This reminds me of one of the "Tiparillo Girls", the Librarian, who used to rant about folks who would drift left to begin a right turn into a driveway.  It was her stated opinion that a driver should execute the maneuver without having to cut out extra maneuver room for himself or herself.  For those of you too young to remember, the Tiparillo Cigar company, in the late 1960s, ran a series of advertisements with the line "Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a ...?, in this case, a "librarian".  It was pretty risqué for the day.

Maintaining Speed

One of the things about being a Christian (or a Jew or Muslim or whatever) is that folks notice when you fall short of who you are supposed to be.  You become another one of those Christian hypocrites.  It is tough trying to be a believer in some way of life because we are humans and we are always falling short.

And this brings me to Friday morning.  In retelling this tale I risk falling short, since it pokes at someone else for their apparent failings.

After a meeting in downtown Lowell I headed east on Route 110, along the left bank of the Merrimack River, out toward I-93.  I was a couple of cars behind an Essex County Sheriff's van, which was doing 35 mph.  And collecting a string of cars behind it.  For a while I wondered if this was about a plot by Essex County to slow commerce in Middlesex County, but then dismissed it as being a little too Byzantine.

Then, as we approached the traffic circle under I-93, where Lowell Street widens into two lanes as North Lowell Street comes in from the left we had a right lane for joining I-93 Southbound and a left lane for going under I-93 and continuing eastbound on Route 110 or pitching up onto I-93 Northbound.  Our van hugs the left side of the right lane, indicating that it will be ahead of me southbound on I-93, heading into Andover.  At the last minute the Essex Sheriff's van goes left, under the Interstate.

I would like ot think that the Essex Sheriff's van was transporting a very ill prisoner and the slow speed and the soft wide turn under I-93 were just for easing the discomfort of said prisoner.  The alternative moves them from considerate hero to sloppy inconsiderate driver.

Regards  —  Cliff

Preparing for Problems—Hurricane Irene

One thing this Administration seems to have gotten right is its relationships with the sovereign states with regard to emergency responses.  Here is a press release from the Pentagon on "Dual-Status Commanders" for Hurricane Irene.
When agreed upon by the Secretary of Defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents. The concept is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state assets during a disaster.
While this may, at first glance, look like a "so what" issue, it is part of what got us into trouble with Hurricane Katrina.  The Governor of Louisiana, Ms Kathleen Blanco, was slow to declare an emergency and invite the Federal Government to step in.  And when it happened there was confusion.  The thing is, the Constitution and the Federal Law are pretty clear on this and FEMA and the President would have been legally wrong to move before the Governor invited them in.  As it was preparations were made, but not bright lines were crossed.

With this move by the Governors and the Department of Defense in anticipation of Hurricane Irene we can have "Unity of Command", a big thing in military terms.

Good move, folks.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Capitol Pedaler

Over at the Althouse Blog we have a report on a fairly unique contraption for getting around Madison, Wisconsin the "Capitol Pedaler".  It looks like the video below was filmed by Professor Althouse herself.

Here is the "home page" for the Capitol Pedaler.
The Capitol Pedaler is a unique bike purchased from a Dutchman in Amsterdam for eco-friendly fun in the greater Madison area.

It holds up to 14 passengers with a Capitol Pedaler driver in the front. Book a ride on one of our routes and get ready to have a great time!!  We can stop at coffee shops, restaurants, parks, bars … anywhere your group wishes as long as it’s on our route.
Regards  —  Cliff

"Terrorists" to Meet at Harvard in Sept

To discuss Amending the US Constitution. (24-25 Sept)
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig said, “From the Tea Party Right to the Progressive Left, there is agreement that something fundamental has gone wrong,”

“The solution to that disagreement is democracy,” Lessig said. “We should begin the long discussion about how best to reform our democracy, to restore its commitment to liberty and a Republic, by beginning a process to amend the Constitution through the one path the Framers gave us that has not yet been taken — a Convention.”
Hat tip to thecInstaPundit, who will be one of the speakers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Apply It To Goverenment

There are so many rules and rulings that it is hard for a layman to keep up, or want to move up.  Here is the latest from Tiger Hawk on the FDA moving to use the Park Doctrine with regard to FDCA products (Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).  Now (if you are in the "chain of command") you can be prosecuted, and sent to jail, if there is bad stuff happening that you don't know about, but you "coulda, shoulda, woulda" known about.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released aggressive guidelines for prosecutions under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act(FDCA)that put corporate officers at risk of criminal liability merely because of their position within a violating company. The guidelines reinvigorate the long dormant Park doctrine, which allows corporate officers to be held criminally responsible for corporate violations of the FDCA and convicted of a misdemeanor even if — unlike virtually all other criminal laws — they had no knowledge of the illegal conduct.
I think I wouldn't much object if the first prosecutions were with regard to the Operation "Gun Runner" conducted by DOJ.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Memorable Birthday

Happy birthday to Vo Nguyen Giap.

Võ Nguyên Giáp was born in the village of An Xa, Quảng Bình province, Viet-nam and is still with us today.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get Your Training Done!

Certain people, who read or should be reading this Blog, still need to accomplish their annual training at their place of business.  The deadline is Friday, the 26th of August.  This might include a couple of people who had lunch with me last Friday, at Chili's.

Of course it could also include other folks who have to take ethics training and sexual harassment training and the like every year.

Regards  —  Cliff

Are All Jobs Created Equal?

Would we be interested in having these jobs in Lowell?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake in DC (5.9)

I felt the earthquake on the third floor of my house here in Lowell.  It disconnected my Blogger Account, forcing me to log back in.  We are reaching out to relatives in the area now.

My sister-in-law says it reminder her of a 6.1 she experience in California.  In this one pictures fell off the wall and the ones on bureaus fell over.
It was so California.
Regards  —  Cliff

Herman Cain Attacked From the Left

Ms Janeane Garofalo asks if someone is paying Businessman Herman Cain to run for the Republican nomination for President.  I am assuming that Ms Garofalo assumes that Mr Cain is, for some reason, not capable of having an interest in elected office, and that the only reason he would run is if someone paid him.  This raises a number of questions:
  1. How much would you have to pay Mr Cain to make it worth his while, considering he is already well off from his former gigs?
  2. Would someone be willing to pay me to run for the Republican nomination to oppose Representative Niki Tsongas?
  3. How much is Ms Garofalo being paid to put forward this smear?
My supplemental question is, has there ever been or will there ever be an African American that Democrats will accept as being both authentically Black and authentically Republican?

I would note that Mr Cain is not new to our political process.  And, Kad Barma may not like him, since he (Mr Cain) spent some time on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Regards  —  Cliff

Rule Reductions to Increase Jobs

Someone in Washington "gets it".  The FCC has just eliminated more than 80 of its media industry rules, including the "Fairness Doctrine".
[FCC Chairman Julius] Genachowski said in a statement that the move was aimed at promoting “a healthy climate for private investment and job creation.”
Seems fair to me.

Regards  —  Cliff

The 12 Apostles Meet in September

I would have thought that those 12 people representing their respective houses and parties would have already been deep in sounding out the issues, the solutions and the positions of their associates.

Apparently not.  But, there have been phone calls.

Regards  —  Cliff

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Student Debt Bubble

There are those out there who think we have a serious student debt bubble and that it will soon burst.

The idea is that costs of higher education are going up and students are taking loans to cover them.  The available jobs to pay for those loans are not out there.  Therefore, the former students will not be able to pay back those loans (unless their employed parents do it for them).  Either way, someone has to backstop those loans, be it private lenders or the Federal Government.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.

On the other hand, some potential students may decide to avoid college or just go to the lower priced local Land Grant School, thus putting a financial strain on some of the more pricey institutions.

Frankly, I don't think the fix from the Democratic Congress back in March of 2010 will overcome the problems we are facing.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

About the 15% Capital Gains Tax

Over at the Chicago Boyz Mr David Foster opines that a 15% Capital Gains tax could turn out to be much more, once you account for inflation, as projected by the BLS.

I know that this isn't China and we are not [yet] facing galloping inflation, but yet inflation is its own form of tax and one assumes that most investors consider it when placing their money.  Regarding inflation (and the Fed), the Chicago Boyz have this post.

Regards  —  Cliff

Another Possible Horse in the Race

On-line critic Ed Morrissey has a post up on the possibility that former Gov George Pataki of New York might throw his hat in the ring for 2012.  For those who can remember, he was a Republican, albeit a more centrist Republican (remember, he was elected three times in New York).

Frankly, Cap't Ed doesn't give Gov Pataki very good odds, noting:
In both tone and policy, Pataki makes Pawlenty look like a grass-roots Tea Party leader.
I say the more the merrier.  And, he formed a nonprofit organization, Revere America, to help fight what has come to be known as Obama Care (United States Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

Real down side?  He is another Yale Grad.  How many would that make?  Wikipedia says seven Presidents and Vice Presidents and that doesn't count the also rans.&nsp; Remember, John F Kerry was a Yale man.

Regards  —  Cliff

What It Will Take

Michael S Maline, a former editor with Forbes, writes an otherwise forgettable opinion piece, but includes this insightful comment on the economy:
First, let me establish the basis for my argument by pointing out that, whatever your hopes, the economy isn’t going to turn around and save you. The only economic ‘miracles’ are those that result from a society dedicating itself fully to certain economic realities. That isn’t going to happen under your administration. Everybody in the U.S., (well, maybe not Paul Krugman), knows what it will take to turn our economy around: low taxes, a reversal of the runaway expansion of government, the unleashing of domestic energy sources, lifting the crushing weight of too many government regulations, and establishing a predictable economic environment that allows companies large and small to make long-term plans and that supports entrepreneurship and venture capital.
I think a lot more people that Dr Paul Krugman may be on the other side, but I do think that we are at a point where a lot of folks understand that we need to change course.  That is the crux of the issue we face.  We are, as a nation, divided on some of these issues, such as regulation and environmental protection.

As for the President "resigning" or not seeking a second term, this seems a much better discussion.

My own take, at this time, is that President Obama will seek a second term and has a good shot at winning a second term in office.  On the other hand, the economic discussion above is one we need to have.  The men and women on Capitol Hill have two questions they need to wrestle with.  First, they need to decide if Keynes was correct in his understanding of how the economy works.  Saying no does not automatically mean that Heyek is correct.  The second question is if they believe environmental degradation (and throw in safety concerns) are such that they believe we are reaching a tipping point from which recovery of the environment will take quite some time (decades to centuries) and thus we need to throttle back the US economy now for the good of all.  The contrary view is that such concerns are not sufficient to override the concerns for the living "environment" for ordinary citizens here and now, who are currently in economic and cultural peril.

Regarding Fedeerally imposed safety rules, it is not just my "Progressive" neigher who has turned against the Nanny State.  Last week I saw Democratic Commentator Bob Beckel on Fox News calling for the abolition of the EPA.  Mr Beckel is definitely to the left of the political spectrum.

Less name calling and more analysis please.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regardds  —  Cliff

Gun Owner Control

Our local State Representative, Kevin Murphy, has, on advice of councel, switch from seeking a Home Rule Petition to seeking state legislation to further encumber gun ownership in our Commonwealth.  [Lowell] Sun reporter Lyle Moran writes about it here.

The idea is that anyone who owns ten guns must have them in some sort of a safe and that safe wired to a central authority, so the police can be notified if there is a break in.

To be filed under "one size does not fit all" we have this comment from Rep Murphy:
Issues like this one have a more favorable atmosphere in the inner city.  Rural areas will be more difficult.
So why are we going for a blanket law to cover both "inner cities" and our rural areas?

And, when I think of "inner city" I think of some blighted area in some large city.  I don't think of Lowell.  This is not to say that we don't have our troubled neighborhoods.  We do.  I just don't think of it the same way I think of cities like New York or Chicago or Philadelphia or even Boston.  When we were living in Northern Virginia my wife's boss was up in Boston for a convention and managed to get himself beaten up (including a broken ankle) near Faneuil Hall, back in about 1991.  My wife was up for the convention also, running the wives tour.  She was more careful about where she went and when.

City Councillor Bud Caulfield says in the article:
The safety of the people is what my concern is,
If the safety of the People is Councillor Caulfield's concern, he should be encouraging gun ownership, not discouraging it.

Regardds  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In Texas

From the local Austin, Texas, newspaper (American-Statesman) is this story about gun ownership by Reporter Joshunda Sanders.  One of the interesting points is that:
Among women, the fastest-growing group of concealed handgun license owners in Texas is African American
The reporter is spending $198 to get her own gun owner's permit.

In the story Ms Sanders mentions the Black Panthers and guns.  I remember reading where they walked the halls of the California Assembly, armed, as a demonstration of their Second Amendment rights, way back in the 1960s.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Forecasting the 2012 Election

The InstaPundit noted that President Obama is not doing so well at the In Trade crowd sourcing website.  The InstaPundit links to this blog that talks to the data.  At the same time, none of the Republican candidates for the Party's nomination are doing all that well at In Trade.

In addition, the InstaPundit has this thought:
Plus, speculation that he’ll start a war to boost his popularity.  My guess is that, as with the stimulus spending and quantitative easing, we’re past the point of diminishing returns there.  Even I have to stop and think to remember all the countries where we’re currently at war, or at least at “kinetic military action.”
At the Immaculate we include four wars in our Prayers of the Faithful these days.

The third link (Zero Hedge, repeated here) includes an embedded paper that talks about war and presidential popularity.
Extensive research demonstrates that war casualties depress incumbent popularity.  The present study argues that analyses of the political costs of warfare should also account for the financial toll of wars since a) financial costsof wars are substantial, b) these costs are publicly observed and understoodand c) fiscal policy affects incumbents’ approval ratings. Empirical evidence based on US data for the 1948-2008 period supports this theoretical claim:  pecuniary costs of warfare either directly affect presidential popularity (e.g., in the Korean War) or their inclusion affects the predicted political cost of war casualties (e.g., in the Korean and Iraq/Afghanistan Wars).  Interestingly, the adverse effect of war-spending is strongest under favourable economic conditions (i.e. low unemployment)
Back to the numbers, they seem to go along with what Analyst Charlie Cook says, it is the Republicans to lose.  Mr Cook's view is that the Republicans need to appeal to moderates as well at the Tea Party.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Internet Sucks Us In

This link is for the cartoon.  The Anchoress talks about turning off comments on Friday, because she is too busy to moderate them.  (Me, I just let them roll, there aren't that many, and if one needs to be deleted I do it after the fact.)  If the preachy stuff doesn't appeal to you, just go to the cartoon.  The only one as good is the one at the bottom of Kad Barma's blog, Choosing a Soundtrack.

Regards  —  Cliff

Replacing Rep Anthony Weiner

This is news.

Over at Jamie Wearing Fool is a report that the race to replace former [disgraced] Representative Anthony Weiner is within 6 points, and in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1.

In this race between Democrat David Werpin and Republican Bob Turner it appears that former Mayor Ed Koch has thrown in with Mr Turner.  And, it appears the size of the Tea Parties keeps on growing, as Mr Werpin is saying that Mr Turner is one.  Is he?  Are all Republicans?

Incidentally, neither candidate merited a place in Wikipedia.  Shouldn't the campaign staffs be making those things happen.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Newspaper of Record

Blogger John Hinderaker at Powerline gives us an example of errors at The New York Times which appear to be politically motivated.  I think "politically motivated" sounds better than "amateur hour".

Regards  —  Cliff

Peter Lucas A Tad Off

I read Columnist Peter Lucas' piece, "Obama's Libya misstep:  Leading from the rear", in Friday's [Lowell] Sun.  For a while it will be here, and then it will be on its way to Pluto.

I have two quibbles about the column.

First, President Bill Clinton's conduct of the operations in Kosovo didn't actually go that smoothly.  The decision to intervene militarily took a very long time and then the bombing effort went on for months, while the US Army tried to deploy ground forces to back up the bombing.  In the end, it worked, but it wasn't pretty.  However, this fracas was not an example of the value of leading from the front.  There was a whole lot of diplomacy involved.  My friend Juan suggested that the measure of effectiveness for the bombing campaign wasn't targets destroyed or tons of bombs dropped, but the number of different air forces with aircraft in the air on a given day.  He was correct.

Second, the true "misstep" might be getting involved at all.  This problem is in Europe's back yard.  We are not the World's Policeman.  Should Europe not be running this show?  Are we not usually being told that the Europeans are big boys now and that Rumsfeld putdown of "Old Europe" is a canard.  I will grant you that due to certain procurement decisions on the part of the Europeans there are certain capabilities that the US posses that they do not, including certain air capabilities and command and control capabilities.  But, that is not a reason for us to be in front.

I think that Mr Lucas fails to make his case.

On top of that, Mr Lucas is negligent in not mentioning that President Clinton conformed to the outline of the War Powers Resolution and President Obama has not.  Mark that down as a misstep for President Obama and a misstep for Mr Lucas.

Regards  —  Cliff

Taxes For Redistribution of Income

Such Taxes are not favored by all, including those at the bottom end of the scale, at least according to Tax Prof Paul L Caron.  Part of the findings are that the homogeneity of the population makes a difference.

Regards  —  Cliff

Friday, August 19, 2011

NPR, Fair and Balanced

Or maybe not.  Over at the Althouse blog we have a commentary on a Four Minute spot on Conflicts of Interest on the part of US Supreme Court Justices, or at least some of them.  The title of the Blog Post is "NPR Devotes Over 4 Min. to Supposed Ethics Issues of Thomas, Scalia, Alito; Barely Touches on Kagan."  Professor Althouse links to a News Buster post of the same title.

I think that National Public Radio is an important institution in this nation, but it is (1) no BBC and (2) not really "National" in the sense that it speaks to everyone across the fruited plain.

Going back to the Althouse post we have this comment:
I kept waiting and waiting for Totenberg to get to the part about the liberal justices. After loads of detail about the conservatives, all we got was one sentence:
The conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, has also suggested that Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan should recuse herself from participating in any upcoming case challenging the Obama health care law, because she had been a legal official in the Obama administration.
So, what is going on here?
  1. NPR Reporter Nina Totenberg is planning to follow up with a look at the other side and an in depth look at Justice Elena Kagan—just stay tuned.
  2. This is an example of the normal slant of NPR reporting.
  3. This is just a sloppy job of reporting.
  4. This is a piece designed to inoculate the listening audience to the [right wing] contention that Ms Kagan should not participate in a SCOTUS look at what has come to be known as "Obamacare".
  5. Some of the above.
I leave it to the reader to make a judgement and then we will see how it plays out.

As for Ms Althouse, her last word on the subject is "Ridiculous!"

Regards  —  Cliff

Strategic Thinking

From Bloomberg, and specifically Virginia Postrel, we have this item on strategic thinking.  In her article, "Want to Be the Next Apple?  Lose the Bafflegab:  Virginia Postrel", she references a new book by Professor Richard P Rumelt, of UCLA's Anderson School of Management, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters.

Toward the end of the article she writes:
“Strategy is not a magic potion for overcoming any obstacle,” says Rumelt. “The part that’s hard to write about, that people reject, that they don’t want to hear me say, is that you may be facing an obstacle you can’t deal with. Choose a different obstacle. Play games you can win.”
My take is "strategy is matching objectives, threats and opportunities in a resource constrained environment".

And, Professor Rumelt has a web site.

Regards  —  Cliff

Supermarket Carriages

For a while the Hannaford, on Rogers Street had both regular sized Grocery Carts (Carriages) and those which were about half as long.  The shorter, sports car models, were easier to maneuver in the store, but one day they were GONE.  My assumption was that someone came up with a safety (read insurance liability) issue.

Then, a fortnight ago I was down in Centreville, VA, at the Giant, and they had those kind of carts.  I liked it.  Not enough to move to Centreville, but enough to dream about what could be again up here in Lowell.

And behold, when I returned and went by the Hannaford on Rogers Street there were new "sports car" model push carts.  They whisked around in an easy manner.  The only issue was that the handle is, for me, about six inches too low.  I think I am going to have to see if I can create a short poll that will clamp on the handle and give me control.  Sort of like a steering wheel knob.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wall Street and the Mass Senate Seat Election

Over at the Richard Howe Blog we have this reference (from Marie) to the idea of Ms Elizabeth Warren running for the Democratic Nomination for the Junior Senator seat here in Massachusetts (Scott Brown, incumbent).  The reference is to a Paul Krugman blog post saying, in part,
Finally, Someone to Run Against Wall Street

From the InstaPundit:
WHO IS BEHIND THE U.S “DAY OF RAGE” AGAINST WALL STREET?  The usual suspects.  But if they’re not burning Barack Obama and Tim Geithner in effigy, then they’re not really angry at Wall Street and its tools, they’re just putting on a show.
I will not be in New York City on Saturday, the 17th of September.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jay Severin is Back

Talk-Meister Jay Severin is back in the area, now on 1200 AM, WXKS.

But, while his audience may be the best and the brightest, sometimes he is not.

On this, his second day back on the air, he was making a comparison of the "Right", whose membership is patriotic and the "Left", which is not.  Tacky.  Sure, he is a talk show host and has to stir up his audience, but we should not be denigrating our fellow Citizens regarding their patriotism, no matter how misguided they may be.  It reminds me of one of the cartoons in this week's New Yorker.  It is a living room scene with an angry Mother in one corner and the Father in another, explaining to the son why he and the Mother are splitting up.  "Your mother and I are separating because I want what's best for the country and your mother doesn't." (p 67)

There is a lot of compromising that is going to be necessary to put this nation back on the right track.  While the President of the Senate may think that the members of the Tea Parties are "terrorists", the fact is that they are people who over the last several decades have come to believe that current Federal Programs are not sustainable over the long run and that the duty of this generation (these generations) is to build a solid system for those coming in the future.  These are people who have been shunted aside for quite some time.  They are especially unhappy with President George W Bush, who, with both Majority Democrat and Majority Republican Houses on Capitol Hill pushed forward his "Compassionate Conservative" Agenda and helped give us more debt.  Thus, the election in 2010.  Some 20% of the Nation said "Enough".

The thing is, compromise is going to be necessary if we are to move forward and not have a total collapse of the Federal Government.  I am not saying we wouldn't survive such a thing, but it would be ugly and the outcome could go either way (total rejection of Republicans or total rejection of Democrats, or total rejection of both, at the next election).  For both sides a compromise is in order.

There is a book out there, Getting to Yes, that encapsulate the view of many on negotiations.  I was on the phone with my youngest Brother this AM and he said we need an article on "Getting to No".  His view was that if everyone is happy at the end of the negotiation, someone missed something.  Since it is a negotiation, no one should be happy, but everyone should be willing to go forward together.

At lunch today with three friends, one of whom is a Contracts person for a local defense contractor (not the firm I sometimes work for), I broached this view of negotiations and he was about to demure, but quickly shook it off and said that such is usually the case.  If everyone is happy someone missed something. 

That is what we are going to have on Capitol Hill.  The Tea Parties are not going to be happy with the outcome.  Those on the Left are not going to be happy with the outcome.  No one is going to be happy with the outcome except the Congressional Staffers, who will be able to again relax into just a hectic schedule rather than a marathon schedule.

I think what the Tea Parties should be looking for is a reasonable immediate payoff, but most important, a long term path that looks like it will not be easily discarded.  In the past the ability to wiggle out of an agreement has been the problem.  An agreement that has less wiggle room, even if Tea Parties are not totally happy, will be a successful negotiation.

I hope the 12 "Apostles" will come up with something along those lines.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Sort of a spin-off of Blogger Greg Page's tagline quote on his EMails—"If everyone is thinking alike then someone isn't thinking."  He lifted it from General George C Patton, who probably lifted it from someone else.

Global Warming Threat From Beyond Our Solar System

I think this was inspired by the movie Cowboys and Aliens.

From The Manchester Guardian we have a report on a study by NASA affiliated scientists at Penn State.  The study says that aliens (extraterrestrials) coming across our planet might destroy it based upon what we have done to our own home world, as a way of protecting life forms from other areas.  They recommend we hide:
To bolster humanity's chances of survival, the researchers call for caution in sending signals into space, and in particular warn against broadcasting information about our biological make-up, which could be used to manufacture weapons that target humans.  Instead, any contact with ETs should be limited to mathematical discourse "until we have a better idea of the type of ETI we are dealing with."
I think that perhaps a bigger threat is drowning in red ink from funding too many "scientific" studies.  On the other hand, I would like to see a real space program out of NASA.  I don't think this is going to help that cause.

Regards  —  Cliff

How Assimilation Changed

From the "Editor Emeritus" of The Washington Times, Wesley Pruden, we have this OpEd on how the Jet Aircraft changed immigration.

One typo.  The Douglas and Boeing birds were the first successful transcontinental [jet] airliners.  The first was the de Havilland Comet, which taught us a lot about metal fatigue.

As a side note, I saw the first DC-8 take off, from Daugherty Field, Long Beach, CA, in May of 1958.  That was nine years after the Comet first flew.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Left in Lowell "Hacked" BACK

One of our favorite sites, Left in Lowell, has been hacked, and not just Left in Lowell, but Lynne Lupien's work site also.  To quote Lynne,
ALL of my Dreamhost sites are pointing to this mystery site. (INCLUDING my biz site, and all my clients' sites). This is a Dreamhost server hacking issue, I bet dollars to donuts it's not just me, either, since I'm on a shared server. So I have a big "OMG IT'S BROKEN PEOLPLE ARE DYING" urgent ticket into Dreamhost support.
Well, people aren't dying here in Lowell, but it seems like it is almost that serious.

Lynne still has her EMail.

She is working the issue.

I sympathize with her in that my EMail provide, World Software Tool and Die, has been having server problems for the last few days and some EMails are running late and they just dumped 200 EMails on me a little while ago—some of which are duplicates, but which ones?

So, fingers crossed for the Left in Lowell crowd, and when they aren't looking, maybe even a small prayer.

UPDATE:  That was fairly quick response by Dreamhost.

Regards  —  Cliff

Can This Be True?

Muni Watch: Illinois Goes Down Down Down in that Burning Ring of Debt….  Lowest rated in the nation.

I hope our City Manager, Bernie Lynch, is keeping up with our debt here in Lowell.  It appears he is.

Regards  —  Cliff

Some Abortion Statistics

Yes, some early members of Planned Parenthood were part of the long forgotten Eugenics Movement, including Ms Margaret Sanger.

From The Daily Caller a modern update.  Or maybe it just worked out that way.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Fast and Furious" Documents

Let me get this straight.  The Attorney General, Eric Holder, is asking Congress for documents on the ATF Operation "Fast and Furious"?  The request involves Congressional testimony by DoJ personnel.

Doesn't this seem a little inverted?

As an aside, this brought to mind Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay's admonition to those going to the Hill to testify.
Never lie to Congress.  You don't have to blurt out the truth, but never lie.
Words to live by.

Regards  — Cliff

Paul Krugman Doesn't Understand Hippies

Sometimes I blog about New York Times Columnist and Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman just because my middle brother, Lance, likes him.

Here is Mickey Kaus (Kaus Files) on Mr Krugman accusing folks of "Hippie Punching".

Hat tip to the InstaPundit Blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

Allen West Talks

The Republican Party has not done very well in reaching out and I think that’s where we have an opportunity to show that the conservative principles and values that really are the cornerstone and the bedrock of the black community — individual responsibility and accountability, faith and family, hard work ethic,” he said. “Those are the type of things that we can reconnect to the black community and once again get a thriving economic community within our inner cities.
Says US Representative Allen West (FL-R).

Speaking on The O'Reilly Factor, Representative West also characterized himself thusly:
I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the underground railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility
Nice historic reference there.

Hat tip to the Althouse Blog.

Regards  —  Cliff


Exactly what National Review Columnist Michael Walsh said here.

Hat Tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Too Soon

In The Daily Mail about a week ago was an article on Ms Caroline Kennedy releasing tapes her Mother, Jackie Kennedy Onassis had made recording her experiences and opinions regarding the history of her years with President John F Kennedy.  The recordings were made soon after the 22 November 1963 assassination of President Kennedy and were made with the assistance of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

The tapes were sealed in a vault at the Kennedy Library, in Boston, to remain there for 50 years after Ms Onassis' death.  Now, 17 years after that death they are being turned over to TV Network ABC, with the British also bidding for the right to air the tapes.  It is understood that this deal is in return for ABC not running its expensive mini-series on the Kennedy family.
It is believed that Caroline, 53, agreed to the early release of the tapes in exchange for ABC dropping its £10million drama series about the family.

The Kennedys, starring Tom Cruise’s wife Katie Holmes as Jackie, critically charted the family’s political and personal trials and tribulations since the 1930s.  The series was eventually broadcast on an independent cable channel, and on BBC2 in the UK, against Caroline’s wishes.
I think that releasing these tapes early is wrong at two levels.

At the first level it is a violation of the wishes of Ms Caroline Kennedy's Mother.  We are supposed to follow the wishes of our parents.

At the second level there is the betrayal of an illusion—my illusion.  I like to think that while Presidents may make really bad decisions, they are at least loyal to their oaths.  I like to think that the petty differences are submerged by the people who manage our country and submerged by the people who support those people.  Put another way, I like to think that the great men and women who lead our nation are loyal to their oaths toward their spouses as an example of their loyalty toward their oath of office.

I know that there has been the betraying of oaths in the White House and in the larger Washington governing scene, but I frankly don't take it well.  The betrayal of the late Ms Elizabeth Edwards, by her husband John, is just the recent jarring example.

It is just that I would like some distance between the known facts and today.  I can accept that LBJ was probably very unhappy with Richard Nixon because in the 1940s Mr Nixon defeated for office (House of Representatives seat) the incumbent, Mr Johnson's paramour.  I just don't want to hear about recent escapades.  The Kennedy years are still too close.  Ms Jackie Kennedy Onassis was correct to want the tapes sealed for 50 years.  Ms Caroline Kennedy was wrong to release them.

Regards  —  Cliff

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vanishing Millionaires?

At this blog post we have the contention that the number of folks earning the big bucks is down and thus the amount of taxes paid by them is down.

We are talking several hundred billion dollars.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Limits on Federalism

The discussion over what the Federal Government can mandate (for instance, it can mandate a draft and citizens to fight our wars) let someone to mention this quote, noting that in Daniel Webster in 1814 thundered:
Who will show me any constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life itself, not when the safety of their country and its liberties may demand the sacrifice, but whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it?
But then that was 1814, when he was a US Representative from New Hampshire, before he became a US Senator from Massachusetts.

Regards  —  Cliff

Gerry Nutter is Not Wrong Here

The Nutters are getting kudos on this blog today and they are not even related.

I think that Blogger Gerry Nutter is not wrong in suggesting that a little compassion be mixed with Justice in the case of our former city Clerk, Richard Johnson.

Mr Johnson did wrong.  Through his lawyer, Kevin Murphy, he has offered to make restitution.  He is done in City Government, at least in Lowell.  He has paid a high price for his transgression.

On the other hand, everyone I have ever talked to agreed that Mr Johnson ran an office that was customer oriented.  In much of government today that is unusual.

At 57, he has at least 13 more working years ahead of him.  In my book I would like to see those productive years, in which he uses his skills at a job and pays taxes and buys goods, helping to sustain the economy.  Here is a chance to apply punishment and not then pick up a charge to the public taxes.  We have too many people in prison as it is.

Gerry Nutter is correct here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Another Look at the UK

Over at Chicago Boyz we have this take on the situation, with two quotes from Antoine de St-Exupery's book Wisdom of the Sands.

Some of the comments are interesting of and in themselves.  One reminds me of "Henry", who calls into City Life from time to time.  And, the comment serves to reinforce Henry's point about older people thinking the streets are not safe for them.  This was referenced here.

Regards  —  Cliff

Mark Steyn's New Book

The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, reviews Mark Steyn's new book, titled After America.

Regards  —  Cliff

There Is A Black Middle Class

I earlier mentioned Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.  Here is a copy of the talk he gave on Sunday from the Pulpit of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, in West Philly.

My oldest son and I were talking about the issue of race and culture the other day and we agreed that there were the WASPs and WASP like and then the rest of the people.  Not WASP as in going to a Protestant Church or being White or Anglo Saxon (are not Anglo Saxons, those folks from that part of Germany and Denmark, by definition "White"?). When I think of WASP I think of those traits Mayor Nutter laid down in his talk at Mount Carmel on Sunday.  It is like that fantasy movie Cowboys and Aliens.  It is all of us against some evil "other".  That evil "other" could be space aliens or it could be those who think that life is a contest to see who is the bigger bully.

And, to further make the point that it is not about race, but culture, look across the pond to England, where it is White Anglo Saxons who are acting like hooligans.  It is, as Prime Minister David Cameron says, culture.  Watch How Green Was My Valley to see another approach.

Here is Mayor Nutter talking about what he learned from his parents as a teenager:
And you know, I know a lot has happened in the 40 years since I was an early teen.  I know that some things have changed.  But now there are a few things that don’t — or shouldn’t — change.  Respect other people.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Don’t touch what doesn’t belong to you, or what you didn’t earn.
On City Life on Monday I was asked who I would favor in a Democratic Party primary against President Obama.  Today I know it would be Mayor Michael Nutter.

Regards  —  Cliff

The Consumer Price Index—July 2011

Over at Wikipedia the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is described thusly:
A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in the price level of consumer goods and services purchased by households. The CPI is defined by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics as "a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services."
There is some talk that the CPI is not a reliable index and has not been for the last three decades or so.  Here is an interesting critique of the CPI.

Be that as it may, here is a Press Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, saying the CPI for June was down 0.2%.  That is to say, it was cheaper to live in June than in May.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.2 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.
Here is a very rough breakdown of the main categories:
The 12 month change in the all items index remained at 3.6 percent.  The change in the index for all items less food and energy edged up to 1.6 percent, its highest level since January 2010.  The food index has increased 3.7 percent over the last 12 months while the energy index rose 20.1 percent.
I was going to write that I am not sure I noticed, but in fact, I have noted the change in energy prices (especially at the gas pump) and I am aware that food prices are going up, both locally and globally.  I am not sure biofuel was such a good idea, at least not in terms of growing food to put in some fuel tank, like corn to ethanol.

UPDATE:  First Comment is in (and it is smack on) and I realize I have the title wrong.  Corrected from PPI to CPI.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What is the Story With Texas Employment?

There has been a lot of talk about the Texas "job making machine", which is supposed to be a guide for the rest of the nation.  Talk is, Texas has created a disproportionate percentage of the new jobs created in this ongoing downturn.

An example of such talk is a recent column by New York Times OpEd writer and Nobel Laureate Dr Paul Krugman.

Now comes Matthias Shapiro and his blog, Political Math, with some discussion of the numbers, based upon what the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tells us about our economy.  Mr Shapiro tells us up front that Governor Rick Perry is not his choice for the next President, but keeping the numbers straight seems to be a passion with Mr Shapiro.

A bonus for those of us in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics list of the labor force from January 2001 to June of 2011 doesn't show much growth.

It started (January 2001) at 3,391,728.
The June 2011 numbers is 3,487,916 (Preliminary).

That is a difference of 96,188.  That doesn't seem like much of a labor force growth over ten years.  The total labor force did jump up to 3,499,946 in December of 2010, but has fallen off since.

Our unemployment rate, per BLS, was 7.6% in June of this year (Preliminary).

My conclusion is that Duke of Wellington was correct about data.  But, it is all we have and we have to use it thoughtfully.

Regarding Texas, I suspect the story is not as good as some would have us believe, but not nearly as bad as others would have us believe.  Truth is often somewhere in the middle and "God is in the details".

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

David McGurl, RIP

Every death is a tragedy and when it is a member of our City Government that death reaches out and touches an even larger circle of people.

The death of our Lowell City Treasurer, David McGurl, on I-93 yesterday morning is a tragedy for his family and for our city and cuts short a life as it is still growing in responsibility.

Our Condolences to the family and to his coworkers.

Regards  —  Cliff

Government Characterized

Someone passed this along:
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."
Regards  —  Cliff

Nutter Takes a Stand

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has come under criticism (and received praise) for taking a stand against young rioters in Philly, most of whom are Black.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

"Spy vs Spy"

Well, it is actually Newspaper vs Newspaper.  Here is The Washington Examiner going after The New York Times for what might be seen as biased reporting (unless you think it is just plain incompetence.

The Washington Examiner calls it "More in-kind contributions to Democrats from the Times".  But, that is the history of the newspaper business, is it not?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

You Are Your Own First Responder

Over at the InstaPundit is the below quote from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels about the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair:
By every account the response by every responsible entity – Mayor Ballard’s outstanding police and fire forces – our own Indiana State Police, the security force of the State Fair itself, emergency management personnel, was instantaneous and highly professional. It’s equally important to say what I heard over and over and over again last night – that individual Hoosiers ran to the trouble, not from the trouble, by the hundreds, offering in many cases their own professional skills. I’ve heard it from everybody I’ve debriefed this morning. People rushing up, ‘I’m a nurse, I’m a doctor, I’m a trained EMS responder.’ But also people who simply pitched in.
-Gov. Daniels
You ARE your own First Responder.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Who is my FIRST CHOICE for the Republican Nomination for 2012.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Street Crime in Lowell

This AM on City Life Henry called in to complain about crime on the streets of Lowell and especially crime as it impacts older folks, who do not feel safe on the streets of Lowell.

There was the usual discussion of more police and then I said, we should change our gun laws here in Massachusetts, resulting in armed citizens.  The point behind that suggestion is that the Police have no (as in NO) duty to protect Citizens and the Property of Citizens.  But, citizens armed have a right to defend themselves and their families and their property.  For the US Supreme Court Ruling (Castle Rock v. Gonzales), you can read this article from The New York Times.  Having noted the SCOTUS ruling, I do think that appropriate legislation might be in order to correct this situation, but none has issued forth.

Back to arming the citizenry, over the weekend we had this report about Virginia and their year old "Concealed Carry" law in bars and restaurants.  Crimes were actually down 5%, but the difference from the year before is not significant enough to indicate a major change.  A hat tip to the InstaPundit for this item on Virginia.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Except maybe in New York State, which has the current English Common law view that if threatened one has the duty to retreat if possible.

First Woman President

Law Professor Ann Althouse, at her blog, talks about the comfort of Americans in General, and the comfort of Republicans in particular, with a woman President.  Interesting discussion.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Do We Mean by "Tea Party"?

I like my terms tidy and in order and I like taxonomies that allow me to see subgroups inside larger groups.  Sometimes that is easy and sometimes not.

The term "Tea Party" has been bandied about recently, including connected to the term terrorist, which drew the response that the connection wasn't there or President Obama would have them as his friends (alluding to that couple in Chicago).

I am often confused by who is meant when the term "Tea Party" is flung around.

Is it the 87 Freshmen Congresspersons, elected last year?  They represent some 20% of the US Congress and thus some 20% of the Congressional voting districts across the fruited plain?  If we were, as someone this weekend suggested we should be, a Parliamentary Democracy, that would be a block big enough to be considered in a coalition government that was right of center.  If it is those 87 Freshmen members of the House of Representatives, it is not a "fringe group".

On the other hand, is it the 60 members of the "Tea Party" Caucus in the US House of Representatives.  A much smaller group.  Only about 13% of the US Congress and thus 13% of the US population.  But, still if we were a Parliamentary Democracy like Italy or Greece, that would be a block to be reckoned with.  On the other hand, that small group could be easily dismissed by any coalition of more Centrist Republicans and Democrats.  How could this small group amount to much?

Then, it might mean those unconnected, but like minded small groups of voters across the nation who gather in libraries and other meeting places to get together and talk about the US Economy and where the nation is headed.  Some, like commenter Jack, gives us a hint that he thinks of the Tea Party as the modern day "Brown Shirts".  "He should work to quickly kill it off before it comes after him."  As I recall, the "Brown Shirts" were young men, just back from the war, and many believing the fable about the Dolchstoßlegende.

The Tea Party folks I run across tend to be older, often in their 60s, and not lean and fit.  They are not complaining so much about past problems as future problems.

There is talk that the "Team Parties" across the fruited plain are all being run by the Republicans (or as someone suggested to me this afternoon, by Karl Rove himself).  Frankly, I haven't see such coordination.  As Kad Barma likes to point out, correlation does not equal causation.  Then there is the assertion that the "Team Parties" are being financed by the Koch Brothers.  If so, why is the local "Great Lowell Tea Party" only locally funded?  Maybe Massachusetts has been "written off" by the Koch Brothers.

So what do we really mean by this term "Tea Party"?

Regards  —  Cliff

Narcissists Rise to the Top...

The Full Headline:
Narcissists rise to the top because people mistake their confidence and authority for leadership qualities.
From a Dutch Study, noted in The Daily Mail (London).

The Lede is:
They may be charming, confident and climb the job ladder with ease, but when they reach the top, narcissists are actually not very good at their roles.
Anybody we know (aside from the one Republicans instantly think of)?  I have no one in mind, but am looking for stories.

Regards  —  Cliff

Back to OSHA and the Home Improvement Business

Ever so infrequently I have a guest Blogger and today it is one of my friends, a person who earns his living as a micro-business person.  He has a Bachelor's degree in Finance from Bentley University and worked as a Senior Financial Analyst before turning to craftsmanship.

Thus begins the Blog Post:

As Cliff’s, up until now, unnamed micro-business contractor “friend”, I’d like to thank him for bringing forth to his readers an issue that we have shared in conversation many times over this past year – overregulation, its detrimental effects on our economic viability and potential for recovery, and my personal experiences and observations having had to deal with it as a restorer of my family home.  Specifically that of OSHA and the EPA.

Kudos also to commenter nealcroz for his well written, articulate and completely accurate perspective of our ever-growing regulations and the overzealous agents who are mobilized to enforce them.  Right on nealcroz!

And then there’s commenter Jack Mitchell....  In response to Cliff’s July 8, 2011 article Unemployment Stats for June, and specifically Cliff’s disclosure that the contractor working to restore Lowell’s historical Immaculate Conception Church had just received a $50,000 fine from OSHA, Mr. Mitchell commented that businesses driven out by regulations “usually are the fly-by-night gypsy rip-off artists” and “I can’t help but care little while scam artists cry”.

Although I am not surprised at the animosity held by many toward building contractors and home repair specialists based on an ever increasing level of poor workmanship (for which I have often been called on to assess and/or correct), I can, with complete confidence, conclude that any contractor working on the spectacular 19th century architectural marvel that is the Immaculate Conception Church, could not be considered a “scam artist” or “gypsy paver(s)”. Being of solid granite, iron, slate and copper, the Immaculate project would only be accessible to those specialists who are tops in their field.

I also find it interesting how regulation loving Americans always vilify the targets of our regulatory agencies oppressive powers.  “Let's justify it by immediately demeaning the victim.”  Isn't that what they did for years with rape victims?  ‘You must have asked for it’, ‘your skirt was too short’, ‘your blouse too low’, etc., etc.  Automatically, any contractor who receives a citation is a "scam artist" or hack.

Furthermore, in response to Cliff’s most recent well written article (Regulations and Jobs – August 10, 2011), Mr. Mitchell writes: “Of course OSHA could potentially run off gypsy pavers and other scam artists” thus “limiting the pool of contractors to those professionals that place a premium on protecting their workers and providing craftsmanship”.  Mr. Mitchell is actually 180 degrees off the mark on this one.

The facts are that licensed, documented and insured contractors are the most likely to be hit by OSHA and the EPA under their newly expanded regulatory assault.  This is due to the fact that OSHA routinely courts local building inspectors to act as snitches and only licensed and insured contractors can pull permits.  Therefore, the most legitimate are the most visible on OSHA’s radar. Also, OSHA field agents check the public records in all of the town and city halls for permit-pulls to chase after.

One city building inspector was gutsy enough to write a letter to one of my trade magazines – the Journal of Light Construction. He wrote to express his distain for such tactics and to profess that he would never snitch on the citizens of his town to accommodate OSHA's subversive actions.  Was this not a common method of enforcement and oppression in communist East Germany by their feared Stasi?  Also, OSHA is now giving bonuses to its field agents based on the total fine dollar value issued.  As the many letters to my trade magazines express, only the unlicensed "gate slammers" will be left when all is said and done. And, unfortunately, many more letters are expressing the decisions by America’s best and most trustworthy building contractors to get out of the business and lay off all of their workers.

What I truly believe, is that if the average American were to be made aware of just what has been going on recently with OSHA and the EPA and their recent objectives targeting local residential home repair specialists, that it will present a baseline opportunity for all of us, liberal, conservative, Democrat and Republican, to gain a perspective as to why unrestrained regulatory oppression by what are known as our regulatory bureaucracies, are, over the long term, doing more harm then good.

OSHA was formed in 1970 by the Nixon administration.  It just celebrated its 40th birthday in 2010.  Word has it that over these forty years, OSHA’s standards documentation has grown from the thickness of a book to a stack over eight feet tall.  This points to the fact that while our regulatory agencies are always open to add more regulation, they are very reluctant to remove those that are deemed obsolete or, via extension, harmful.  Another interesting tidbit is that for the past forty years of its existence, 1970 - 2010, the graphically charted decline in workplace injuries is approximately equal to that which took place in the forty years prior to its creation - 1930 to 1970.  This, to me, confirms that businesses and the American people are, for the most part and in general, determined to protect the health and welfare of their fellow man and employees.  Add to that a civil court process fully accessible to all Americans and a liquid and affordable insurance and underwriting industry, I can only conclude that we may very well never have needed the $500 million bureaucracy that OSHA has ballooned to in the first place.  This coming from a Democrat voting un-enrolled political centrist!

On December 22, 2010, Obama’s OSHA Director Nominee, David Michaels, announced his decision to reverse a 40 year ruling that exempted residential projects from OSHA oversight and citation targeting.  I personally was affected buy this last autumn, when an OSHA agent ordered me off of my roof, on my house, which I live in and which I was working on right here in Lowell.  After answering some very threatening questions as to my residency in this structure, he made it clear that I was “out of his jurisdiction”.  He did go on, however, to apprise me of all that which, under OSHA rules, he would have cited me for.  He then ordered me to fill out my name and address on a form that he pushed in my face.  (Which I believe to this day was an unconstitutional violation of my 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure.)  It was after this incident that I was motivated to find out ‘why now and never before’ and discovered much about the “new” OSHA under David Michaels.  This assault by an agent of my government motivated me to research further.  Shockingly, although this agent did not assign any dollar values to the fines that I would have been given had my work been on anything other then my own residence, my research indicated that I would have been fined somewhere in the order of $60,000 in total.  Personal bankruptcy would have been in order for both my brother and I had he had more “reach”.

Also important to know is the fact that OSHA is using the same citation schedule for a one person micro business as they do for 3M or British Petroleum.  They have insensitively accorded no reduction in a fine that would be a mere nip for a large corporation as opposed to a life-ender for a small business person.

In a speech to defend his new aggressive and highly punitive OSHA, Mr. Michaels defended his strategy by stating that OSHA was no longer in the business of education and that America’s contractors were to be “shamed” into conforming to OSHA’s unrealistically rigid standards.  And about those OSHA rules as they apply to me and my fellow residential home repair and restoration specialists?  If I am on even a flat platform a mere 6 feet above grade, I have to have strapped to me an OSHA approved harness that is hooked via my OSHA approved rope to an OSHA approved lag attached with OSHA approved screws.  6 feet, my fellow Americans is the height of the average step ladder. You take more of a risk descending your stairs each morning then I am allowed to do to simply do my job.  Being an Ivy League academic, I very much doubt that Mr. Michaels has ever walked a roof.

There are approximately 120 million residential structures in the US, all of which require periodic maintenance.  According to the latest statistics that I could find, a total of 45 people died falling from residential structures in 2009 in the entire USA.  Yes, I agree, any death is one that we should work to prevent.  However, in comparison, between 35,000 and 45,000 people die each year in the US in auto related accidents.  If the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) were to decide to adopt the business plan that OSHA has under David Michaels, we will all be receiving $10,000 fines for things like not having our seatbelts buckled or not having our baby seat installed properly or even speeding.  (Feeling it now are you?)  Also interesting in this category of OSHA targets is the fact that OSHA’s top dollar amount citation category is Fall Arrest.  At 45 deaths among 120 million residential structures, I can only applaud America’s residential contractors on a job very well done!  I can further conclude that the only reason why Fall Arrest is the top “income earner” for OSHA is that a person on a roof is the easiest person to snag.

Although I do strongly agree that over-regulation in and of itself is a huge problem which interferes with the ability of small business to 'get its work done' and grow, what really scares me is the trend of government to assess crippling fines when a business is found not to be in compliance with their unrealistically ridged ideas on what constitutes workplace safety.

It's one thing for governments to mandate and supervise safety but it has gotten to the point (especially on a Federal level) when a breach brings on business-busting five and six figure fines.  Everything seems to be about the 'punitive' in this country now.  And this "punishment" is meted out in a purely financial manner. Of course this is going to paralyze business formation and growth not to mention the exponential trickle-down loss of jobs throughout our economy which is a standard of 2 additional jobs lost for every one layoff.  And all at a time when our country is wilting away under the fallout from the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression.

As I tell people, our governments (Federal, State and local) are "protecting us to death".  They are poisoning the root-ball of economic progress. We (the USA) have morphed into the "Nation of No".  Our governments are now the "wet nurse" of the American people and at an enormous and crippling financial burden in my opinion.

OSHA and the EPA are like storm troopers.  Any contractor can now garner a debilitating fine for simply not having his or her daily safety log up to date.  It is all very Gestapo to me in that an agent of the Federal Government can come onto my job site at any time and "demand of me my papers".  If, upon inspection, they are not updated to the day, a, say, $10,000 fine is levied.

Right here in the greater Lowell area, there has been over $250,000 in fines levied by OSHA just this year among three local businesses.  And that is just what I have personally come across in newspaper stories.  $130,000 to a roofer shoveling snow in Wilmington, $70,000 to another in Tewksbury and $50,000 to the highly skilled crew working on the Immaculate Conception church right here in Lowell.  I don't even subscribe the Lowell Sun so I'm sure that the total amount is far greater then that.

The EPA just bagged their first victim under its newly enacted RRP lead law.  Two brothers in Maine were issued 5 citations at $36,500 each for a total of $182,500.  They were working to repaint a multi-family home that they own.

If our insurance companies ran their businesses with the same skewed data approach to safety that our government regulatory agencies do, none of us would be able to afford insurance.

Another thing to realize is the fact that OSHA receives $500 million from American tax payers to run itself.  But...... as a fine levying organization, they are free to engage in their own "fund raising campaigns" with an assumed objective of using these funds to gain some financial leverage and wiggle room in their operational cost constraints.  OSHA took in over $150 Million in citation revenue from American businesses in 2009.  With the recent waiver of the residential projects exemption, that amount could easily double.

And finally, for all of you white-collar business owners who believe that you will never have to worry about that which I and my blue-collar peers have to, please know that OSHA, under Obama-appointed David Michaels, had recently attempted to reach into your clean-as-a-whistle offices by having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome exposure placed under its purview.  Fortunately for you, their request was batted down by Congress.  Had they succeeded, OSHA would have had the right to enter your offices at will with no notice and with the same level of accessibility as an FBI agent with a court issued subpoena and inspect the keyboards on every one of your many computers.  And also know that OSHA uses a multiple system of applying citation amounts (as does the EPA).  They take the standard amount and multiply by the number of, say, in my case ladders and in your case, keyboards, and then multiply again by the number of employees within reach of said offensive article of equipment.

I believe that this is an ultimate "across the aisle" issue as the recent inclusion by OSHA of residential projects targets the common man and not just the big, bad corporations.  It is time to reach out to our elected representatives – both Democrat and Republican - to fully apprise them of the oppressive and financially crippling practices of our regulatory agencies toward the American common man and woman.

The bottom line is that I, as a true craftsmen and doggedly honest professional, cannot with any conscience, encourage the young and talented future crafts and trade persons of America to pursue a future in a profession that on which any given work day, they can lose everything including their business, their home and the very food on their dinner table from which they feed their families for simply doing what they do.  As a matter of fact, I am now strongly discouraging anyone from entering into the business of home repair based on the recent fusillade of regulatory targeting.  And I, sadly, have decided to exit my profession as soon as is economically feasible.

Very bleak it is, if you ask me.