Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day

Posted in Culture on May 31, 2010 by DaMook

Today is the day (Memorial Day) we honor our American soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Normandy American Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery

While you’re celebrating, please remember what it is all about.

Manila American Cemetery

Manila American Cemetery

Here’s a great website to help you remember: American Battle Monuments Commission

Luxembourg American Cemetery

Luxembourg American Cemetery

The Commission administers, operates, and maintains 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil. Presently there are 124,909 U.S. war dead interred at these cemeteries, 30,921 of World War I, 93,238 of World War II and 750 of the Mexican War. Additionally 6,177 American veterans and others are interred in the Mexico City and Corozal American Cemeteries.

Lorraine American Cemetery-France

Lorraine American Cemetery-France

Remember – freedom isn’t free. It comes at a heavy price…

Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery-Belgium

Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery-Belgium

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Doctor Zero: Versus America

Posted in Culture on May 31, 2010 by DaMook

Here’s another great post by one of my favorite social commentators, Doctor Zero. Since today is Memorial Day, this post has special significance.

One of the most striking moments in our increasingly surreal politics came when congressional Democrats leaped to their feet and applauded a foreign leader as he trashed the state of Arizona and its immigration law.  The foreigner in question was the president of Mexico, a barely functional kleptocracy with vastly more restrictive immigration laws, enforced by a corrupt police force that has been known to beat and rob undocumented aliens.  Arizona’s immigration law was prompted by the flood of people desperately seeking to escape Felipe Calderon’s miserable governance.

Read the whole thing…

Stop the government school spending binge

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Government Schools on May 31, 2010 by DaMook

Not satisfied with the $100B from last year’s “stimulus” package, the Education Department (along with the teachers’ unions) are citing another “crisis in education” to get even more tax dollars. If they don’t get these funds, they claim that up to 300,000 teachers could be laid off. (story here from Heritage.org)

On Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan tried to publicly shore-up support for the $23 billion “Education Jobs Fund” being considered by Congress. Flanked by union heads Dennis Van Roekel (President, National Education Association) and Randi Weingarten (President, American Federation of Teachers) and Representatives Dave Obey (D-WI) and George Miller (D-CA), Secretary Duncan pleaded for additional taxpayers dollars:

School boards and state legislatures are finalizing their education budgets for the upcoming school year and many face tough choices about whether to retain teachers and continue programs that are vital to their ability to provide a world-class education for their students. We must act quickly and responsibly to provide schools the resources they need so they don’t have to make choices that would not be in the best interests of their students and teachers.

Yadda Yadda Yadda. The same old tired mantra that we don’t spend enough on education. Even the Washington Post, another propaganda arm of the government, is calling “bullshit” on this:

The unions predict layoffs could go as high as 300,000. It’s hard to imagine losing that many teachers without some damage to learning.

But that many teachers almost certainly are not going to lose their jobs. For technical reasons, school districts must send notices in the spring to more teachers than they actually expect to let go in the fall. What’s more, the unions’ 300,000 estimate includes not only classroom teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade but also support staff and college professors. The bill would distribute money to states according to their population, not expected layoffs; states where no layoffs are imminent would get checks anyway, and the majority of states would receive more than they could possibly need to avoid layoffs. The Senate version of the bill permits them to spend the excess on other things.

According to this story (from AP), congressional democrats are dropping this into an already pork stuffed bill for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So the solution to this “crisis” is to throw even more money at it. For decades America’s collective reasoning has been anesthetised by the myth of more spending equals a better education system. Education spending has increased exponentially while educational outcomes have remained, at best, flat. Yes we need reform in education but that certainly doesn’t mean higher spending. One place where we can start the reform process is by getting rid of teachers’ unions which have demonstrated time and again that they are not at all interested in what’s best for the students.

Last year, the Department of Education received an unprecedented $98 billion through the so-called stimulus. Although that money was supposed to span a two-year period, Congress and the Obama administration are already asking taxpayers for billions more to support unsustainable public education spending. Instead of coming back to taxpayers for another public sector bailout, states should work on cutting costs in areas that are long overdue for reform: age-old tenure practices, teacher compensation and pension reform. Not only would this prevent already overburdened taxpayers from incurring more debt, but it would put states on a path toward meaningful education reform.

For more information on what we really spend on education, here’s an article (from the Cato Institute) that puts the lie to the “official” cost figures you often see. When you read that your school district spends X dollars per pupil, that figure is often lowballed – the real costs are, in many cases, much higher.

Lavish spending on IRS facility in MA

Posted in BIG Government, Government Folly, Government Waste/Fraud/Abuse on May 31, 2010 by DaMook

Not to worry, taxpayers, the IRS is not going to allow a bad economy to deter them from providing a comfortable (and “green”) work environment in Massachusetts. The “stimulus” is allocating $80M to a $92M project to renovate the Andover IRS center. (story here from the Boston Herald)

The $92 million renovations at the IRS compound in Andover will include a reflecting pool, an art gallery, indoor gardens, a 7,000-square-foot cafeteria and an amphitheater, but it remains unclear what new permanent jobs, if any, will come to the center.

The Herald reported last month that the IRS received $80.5 million in stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for “green upgrades” to the 400,000-square-foot complex.

Nice. I’m sure those of you who are working in a cube farm in some nondescript building are glad that you can provide these government drones with such a lavish workspace.

Levi said the upgraded building will have have room for 2,000 employees, more than double the 900 that work there. About 1,400 employees were laid off last year because an increase in electronic tax submissions meant fewer workers are needed to process paper returns. The remaining employees serve primarily in customer service at the IRS call center.

“Customer service” at the IRS call center – that’s where you can call with tax questions and flip a coin on whether the answer you get is actually correct. At least you’ll know that the “customer service” rep is in a comfortable and spacious environment.

Last month, critics blasted the project as a “boondoggle,” saying the $92 million would have been better spent fixing roads, bridges and dams. Supporters said renovating the site would be an incentive for bringing permanent jobs there.

Yes – an incentive for bringing permanent government jobs there. We taxpayers are glad to forgo better roads and bridges so that we can have more government drones in comfortable (and green) work sites.

UGH…

Income shift from private industry to government

Posted in BIG Government, Government Folly, UGH! on May 30, 2010 by DaMook

According to this story (from USA Today) the tectonic plates of the welfare state have shifted to record levels. The country’s income from the private sector is at an all time low while the income from government is at an all time high.

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes. Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all, he says. “This is really important,” Grimes says.

This should not be surprising with out of control government spending at record levels. The biggest problem is that the government is spending money it doesn’t have. (For more details, see the US Debt Clock.) The article contains two quotes of note. The first is from a moron who thinks this is good:

The shift in income shows that the federal government’s stimulus efforts have been effective, says Paul Van de Water, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“It’s the system working as it should,” Van de Water says. Government is stimulating growth and helping people in need, he says. As the economy recovers, private wages will rebound, he says.

Private wages will rebound only when private employers start hiring again. Lavish government spending will not “stimulate” this. The other quote is spot on:

Economist David Henderson of the conservative Hoover Institution says a shift from private wages to government benefits saps the economy of dynamism. “People are paid for being rather than for producing,” he says.

And nothing produces less than government.

Baby hears for first time after cochlear implant

Posted in Cool Stuff on May 30, 2010 by DaMook

If this doesn’t get to you, nothing will. Here’s a video of an 8 month old baby hearing for the first time after a cochlear implant. His reaction is absolutely precious.

Sestak job offer – Bill Clinton did it?

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Government Folly, State-run media on May 30, 2010 by DaMook

The Joe Sestak job offer controversy has been swirling for months. Sestak claimed that the White House offered him a job to not run against Arlen Sphincter in a PA democrat primary. The regime obviously wanted Sphincter, the aging dem/repub/dem, to remain in the senate seat he has held since Christ was a carpenter. The controversy has heated up since Sestak beat Sphincter in the primary and the regime has been backpedalling and stalling an increasingly antagonistic state-run media. This is big because, if true, the job offer is a felony offense.

Well, the “official” explanation from the White House was finally released Friday – par for the course from this regime. According to the memo released by the White House, Rahm Emanuel (chief of staff) enlisted Bill Clinton to offer Sestak an unpaid position on some advisory panel – or something. All this happened after the White House had contacted Sestak’s brother (and campaign advisor) and Bill Clinton met with our dear comrade leader. (story here)

On the Friday before a long holiday weekend, the White House issued a statement admitting that President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel arranged for former President Bill Clinton to ask Representative Joe Sestak if he would consider dropping out of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary.  Mention was made in their discussion of Sestak’s possible appointment to a prominent, but unpaid, government advisory position if he did decide to drop out.

As the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live used to say, “How conveeeeeeenient.” And we’re supposed to believe this shit? C’mon man! To make matters worse, Sestak wasn’t eligible for the job that was offered. (more here)

In a little-noticed passage Friday, the New York Times reported that Rep. Joe Sestak was not eligible for a place on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the job he was reportedly offered by former President Bill Clinton.  And indeed a look at the Board’s website reveals this restriction:

The Board consists of not more than 16 members appointed by the President from among individuals who are not employed by the Federal Government. Members are distinguished citizens selected from the national security, political, academic, and private sectors.

As a sitting member of Congress, Sestak was not eligible for the job.  And since the White House intended for Sestak to remain in his House seat, he would not have been eligible for the board after this November’s elections, provided he was re-elected to the House.

According to this post (from JWF), the Sestak offer wasn’t the only effort by the regime to interfere in a political race.
The White House has been taking aspiring opponents of rookie New York Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand and squashing them like bugs for months now — and nobody’s made a federal case out of it.
She did little in her first year in office but reverse course on most positions she held during her single full term in the House — while transforming herself into Chuck Schumer’s shadow.

Potential opponents arose, only to be swept aside, including:

* Rep. Steve Israel (D-Long Island), whom Obama personally called and asked to drop out.

* Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), a principled liberal who nonetheless found it impossible to raise money with the White House blocking her.

* Ex-Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), with a strong pro-Wall Street message, could have overcome his out-of-state roots — as Bobby Kennedy and Hillary Clinton did before him. But, as Ford acknowledged, the “heavy-handed tactics” of Obama’s “party bosses” carried the day.

As the Nixon administration learned from the Watergate affair, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that kills you. But that was when the state-run media actually had some good journalists who dug into things like this. Don’t expect the media to dig too deep on this one…