Archive for June, 2010

New Flying Car – I want one!

Posted in Cool Stuff on June 30, 2010 by DaMook
flying car

I want one!!

Imagine cruising over bumper-to-bumper traffic at 115MPH or taking that long road trip in less than half the normal time. It could soon be a reality with the Terrafugia Transition – a flying car that was recently approved by the FAA. (story here)

The FAA’s granted the Terrafugia Transition roadable airplane the exemption it needs to bring us closer to our dream of flying cars.The Terrafugia’s been the best hope for a flying car since it made its maiden voyage last March. The vehicle is a two-seater plane powered by regular unleaded gas from your corner Shell station. When flown, the front propeller allows the Transition to travel at a speed of approximately 115 mph for a range of around 450 miles.

According to Terrafugia, the plane can then be transitioned from aircraft into roadgoing vehicle in just 30 seconds with the same fuel source powering the front wheels of the aircraft. It can hit a speed of around 65 mph on the road and returns fuel economy of around 30 mpg.

The FAA weight limit exemption allows the Transition to qualify as a “light sport aircraft,” which only requires 20 hrs. of flying time to obtain a license – far less than a full pilot’s license. There are still a host of regulatory hurdles to overcome but the company expects to have the first production models ready by the 4th quarter of 2011. At a price of $194,000, this obviously is not for everyone. Terrafugia says that they already have about 70 orders and they expect more after the FAA decision.

Awesome!

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Regime using unions to push for amnesty

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, The Regime on June 30, 2010 by DaMook

Why am I not surprised by this story? (from My Way News) The government is enlisting activist groups and unions to push for amnesty for illegal aliens.

President Barack Obama is enlisting activists and labor leaders in a push for comprehensive immigration legislation that will showcase Republican opposition and include a speech by the president.

The strategy was discussed during a meeting Monday by a range of prominent labor leaders and activist groups. Participants said Obama reiterated his support for immigration legislation but noted the political realities that have stalled it in Congress.

Latino leaders say they will work in coming months to pressure Republicans to give way and support an immigration bill – and make opponents pay at the ballot box if they don’t.

“We’re going to make absolutely crystal clear who’s at fault here,” said Eliseo Medina, a leader of the Service Employees International Union.

It’s difficult to imagine how these people can “make opponents pay at the ballot box” when the majority of Americans across all political and geographical spectrums oppose amnesty for illegals. (more here) Are these people serious?

The White House said Obama would deliver a speech soon on “the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform” but didn’t give more details.

Given the difficulties of achieving a comprehensive bill, participants in the White House meeting said there was also discussion of attempting to pass smaller pieces of legislation – such as a bill focused on agricultural workers, or one that would help illegal immigrant youths attend college.

Given that the private industry has lost 8 million jobs since the start of the recession, it’s hard to believe the mantra that these illegal invaders are “doing jobs that Americans won’t do” – that’s always been bullshit anyway. They’re doing jobs Americans won’t do for peon wages, and at the same time, polluting the labor market.

A wealth gap? No, it’s a stupid gap

Posted in Culture on June 28, 2010 by DaMook

A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the after tax income of the top 1% of earners has more than doubled between 1979 and 2007. (story here from TaxProf)

The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1% of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007 (the period for which these data are available), according to data the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued last week. Taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928.

A look at the graphical data tells the story:

wealth1Notice that, while the top 1% had the biggest gain, every group has seen an increase.

The survey does, indeed, show, as fellow tax bloggers  Jim Maule and  Linda Beale are sure to point out, that the rich have gotten richer. What it does not show, and what is not to be automatically inferred from it, is that the poor and the middle-class have gotten poorer.

Of course, I fully expect the tax-the-rich types to suggest that very thing. But by doing so they only betray one of their many faulty premises: Namely, that wealth, like energy, is finite and an increase in one individual’s wealth is always be matched by a commensurate decrease in another individual’s wealth.

The best part of this post comes in the comments section:

A reason for the “wealth or income gap”: Smart people keep on doing things that are smart and make them money while stupid people keep on doing things that are stupid and keep them from achieving.

People who get an education, stay off of drugs, apply themselves, and save and wisely invest their earnings do a lot better than people who drop out of school, become substance abusers, and buy fancy cars and houses that they can’t afford, only to lose them.

We don’t have an income gap. We have a stupid gap. Guess which group voted for Obama.

Indeed.

“Sanctuary City” guy chosen for ICE position

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, The Regime on June 28, 2010 by DaMook

If there was ever a question about our dear comrade leader’s policy on illegal immigration, look no further than his most recent appointment to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Apparently the regime feels that ICE needs some type of overseer for local and federal government relations regarding immigration. (story here from FoxNews)

The Obama administration has tapped an outspoken critic of immigration enforcement on the local level to oversee and promote partnerships between federal and local officials on the issue.

Harold Hurtt, a former police chief in Houston and Phoenix, has been hired as the director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of State and Local Coordination. Starting July 6, Hurtt will supervise outreach and communication between ICE, local law enforcement agencies, tribal leaders and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

“Chief Hurtt is a respected member of the law enforcement community and understands the concerns of local law enforcement leaders,” said John Morton, the Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE. “His experience and skills will be an invaluable asset to the ICEs outreach and coordination efforts.”

But as a police chief, Hurtt was a supporter of “sanctuary city” policies, by which illegal immigrants who don’t commit crimes can live without fear of exposure or detainment because police don’t check for immigration papers.

Somehow I don’t think the word “Enforcement” is on this guy’s agenda.

“There’s no way you can head up an office if you don’t believe in what the office is supposed to do,” Curtis Collier of U.S. Border Watch, told the Houston Chronicle. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s primary mission is to protect the American people. If this guy believes any of these programs should not be enforced, he’s certainly going to be a very weak advocate for them.”

Critics say his pro-immigration policies enabled illegal immigrants to kill two police officers and seriously injure another in Phoenix before he left in 2005 and to kill an officer in Houston before he retired in 2009.

The widow of one of the officers, Rodney Johnson, who was fatally shot by an illegal immigrant with a long criminal record, is suing Hurtt for enacting policies that she says led to his death.

Ugh…

N Korea claims US owes $65T – zzzzz…Huh? What?

Posted in Government Folly, Humor on June 28, 2010 by DaMook

kimApparently miffed that he didn’t catch a bow from our dear comrade leader during one of his appeasement tours, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is claiming that the US owes them $65T in Korean war damages. (story here)

The Obama administration is ridiculing North Korea for claiming the U.S. owes it $65 trillion in Korean War damages.A State Department official said Friday the communist nation is an economic “basket case” due its own failed policies and called the compensation claim “preposterous.”

Marking the 60th anniversary of the start of the conflict, State spokesman P.J. Crowley said North Korea had no one but itself to blame for its isolation and said the North should abide by agreements to give up nuclear weapons and stop threatening its neighbors.

On Thursday, North Korea said the moneterary cost in its suffering from the conflict amounted to $65 trillion—five times the U.S. national debt.

Wake me up when you find someone who gives a shit…

More Gulf oil spill madness – US government edition

Posted in BIG Government, The Regime on June 27, 2010 by DaMook

According to this story, our dear comrade leader’s regime turned down an offer from the Dutch government to assist with the Gulf oil spill that may have averted disaster. The kicker is that this would have come at no charge to the taxpayers. Can’t have that now, can we? The regime needed another crisis to push for more government control.

Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. “Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour,” Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn’t capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana’s marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks.

But the regime, experts on everything, told the Dutch to take a hike. After all, what do the Dutch know about oil spills?

The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company’s expense. “If there’s a country that’s experienced with building dikes and managing water, it’s the Netherlands,” says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.

In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with “Thanks but no thanks,” remarked Visser, despite BP’s desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer –the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment –unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.

So, what’s the problem here? Why didn’t the regime accept this generous offer from the Dutch? Environmental concerns:

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, “We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water–the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that.” In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls “crazy.

Crazy is as crazy does.

After 2 months of inaction, other than to haul oil industry execs before a congressional inquisition clown show, the regime finally relents and allows the Dutch to help – sort of.

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

A catastrophe that could have been averted is now playing out. With oil increasingly reaching the Gulf coast, the emergency construction of sand berns to minimize the damage is imperative. Again, the U.S. government priority is on U.S. jobs, with the Dutch asked to train American workers rather than to build the berns. According to Floris Van Hovell, a spokesman for the Dutch embassy in Washington, Dutch dredging ships could complete the berms in Louisiana twice as fast as the U.S. companies awarded the work. “Given the fact that there is so much oil on a daily basis coming in, you do not have that much time to protect the marshlands,” he says, perplexed that the U.S. government could be so focussed on side issues with the entire Gulf Coast hanging in the balance.

Then again, perhaps he should not be all that perplexed at the American tolerance for turning an accident into a catastrophe. When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker accident occurred off the coast of Alaska in 1989, a Dutch team with clean-up equipment flew in to Anchorage airport to offer their help. To their amazement, they were rebuffed and told to go home with their equipment. The Exxon Valdez became the biggest oil spill disaster in U.S. history–until the BP Gulf spill.

This is what passes for US “energy policy.”

A “carp czar?”

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Government Folly on June 27, 2010 by DaMook

Space alien Dick Durbin (D-IL) is asking our dear comrade leader to appoint a “carp czar.” (story here) Huh?

As concerns mount about the presence of Asian carp near Lake Michigan, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin today urged President Obama to appoint a carp czar to oversee efforts to keep the invasive species out of the Great Lakes.

“We need to have one person who coordinates the efforts of the federal, state and local agencies that are doing everything they can to keep the Asian carp out of Lake Michigan,” Durbin said during a news conference at the Shedd Aquarium. “We believe it’s absolutely essential.”

And here’s Dick’s idea on how to accomplish this:

Durbin said he plans to introduce a bill next week that will ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look at “hydrologic separation” between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, a potentially massive engineering feat that would require severing the 100-year-old, man-made shipping corridors that now link the two waterways. Durbin expects the Army Corps to deliver its report within 18 months.

Next on Durbin’s agenda – a dogshit czar because you know, people don’t clean up after their pets.