Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Actually, the John Hinderaker portion is quite good. The interviewer had that passive-aggressive edge liberal media members have when dealing with conservatives (love the intro where he works in words like "feisty" and "insults" -- or words to that effect -- to characterize what goes on at Power Line). But John presents a strong, articulate defense of conservative principles throughout and plenty of pushback on the flawed premsies of many questions. If John was running for President and this was a televised debate, he'd be ascending in the polls right now.
Again, it's on today, 12 noon (central) on 91.1 FM here in the Twin Cities, and streaming here.
The east coast of Africa confirmed its place as one of the brightest spots on the global energy landscape after Anadarko Petroleum Corp. sharply raised its estimate for the amount of natural gas contained in a big field it has found off the coast of Mozambique.
Anadarko's chief executive, James Hackett, said the revised estimate increased the company's confidence that "this could be one of the most important natural-gas fields discovered in the last 10 years."
Anadarko said it had increased the estimate of recoverable resources from the four discoveries made in its Offshore Area 1 block to between 15 trillion and 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Initially, the Texas-based company had said the field contained six trillion cubic feet, a figure it raised to 10 trillion cubic feet in October. Thirty trillion cubic feet would be enough to meet an entire year's gas consumption by the U.S.
Keep in mind that with all the natural gas now being recovered in the US, it’s expected that America will soon itself become a major global supplier. So discoveries of fields such as this off the coast of Africa are only going to add to that global supply meaning we’re going to have more than enough natural gas to meet expected demands for a long, long time. In fact, the challenge on the natural gas side is going to be figuring more and more ways to utilize this resource to meet our energy needs in the place of oil. Which means less demand, lower prices, and more time before we even come close to exhausting the supply of oil.
This highlights the inherent difficulty of trying to predict when we’ll “run out” of any of the dreaded fossil fuels which have provided the energy to build the modern world that we know today. When it comes to energy, the Rumsfeldian adage “we don’t know what we don’t know” is especially applicable. Within the last decade, terminals and pipelines were built so that we could import natural gas into the US. Now, those pipelines are being reversed and terminals retrofitted so that we can EXPORT the same gas. Don’t recall many of the “Peak Oil” folks calling that one.
More good news on the energy front from an American perspective as we learn that the US is on the verge of becoming a Net Fuel Exporter (WSJ-sub req):
U.S. exports of gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels are soaring, putting the nation on track to be a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.
A combination of booming demand from emerging markets and faltering domestic activity means the U.S. is exporting more fuel than it imports, upending the historical norm.
According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday, the U.S. sent abroad 753.4 million barrels of everything from gasoline to jet fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 million barrels.
That the U.S. is shipping out more fuel than it brings in is significant because the nation has for decades been a voracious energy consumer. It took in huge quantities of not only crude oil from the Middle East but also refined fuels from Europe, Latin America and elsewhere to help run its factories and cars.
As recently as 2005, the U.S. imported nearly 900 million barrels more of petroleum products than it exported. Since then the deficit has been steadily shrinking until finally disappearing last fall, and analysts say the country will not lose its "net exporter" tag anytime soon.
"It looks like a trend that could stay in place for the rest of the decade," said Dave Ernsberger, global director of oil at Platts, which tracks energy markets. "The conventional wisdom is that U.S. is this giant black hole sucking in energy from around the world. This changes that dynamic."
Look for more such changes in the future as the conventional wisdom on energy is outpaced by what’s actually taking place on (and under) the ground.
The Nihilist discloses a long position in Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Well, not the games themselves actually. Watching Tebow is liking watching the NBA; there’s really no point in tuning in until the fourth quarter because that’s when the outcome will be determined. And the style that Tebow plays is not exactly must see TV. As Reed Albergotti explained in today’s WSJ (sub req):
Watching Tim Tebow run the read option for the Denver Broncos on Sundays has got to be one of the most gratifyingly bizarre spectacles in the modern history of the NFL.
This is an offense that hasn't been allowed anywhere near the league in 30 years. This is an offense that high-school teams like to try when they run out of ideas. If this offense were attached to an automobile, it would be the 8-track player.
And when it comes to watching Tebow run that option, the quality of the viewing experience is about the same as the sound performance of an 8-track player. But we’re not watching for the quality of the football being played. As Albergotti mentioned, it’s the inexplicable and bizarre nature of Tebow’s success that has us all tuned in.
In the early days of the Tebow Era (now officially crowned), I was an agnostic. I don’t particularly care about the Broncos and didn’t really care personally about Tebow one way or another. I, like most, thought his quarterbacking skills would never work in the NFL and that he’d eventually settle into a bit role in another position. His openly expressed Christianity didn’t bother me (as it obviously does to many of his most voracious critics), but neither did I find it to be a reason to rally to him. Other then some mild level of curiosity as to whether he could play in the NFL or not, I was largely indifferent to him.
Recently though, I’ve found myself becoming something of a believer. Mostly not because of what Tebow has done on the field, but because of the impact that his success has had among the NFL intelligentsia off the field. I find it amusing to watch panel after panel of NFL “experts” bang their heads on the table and try to explain how Tim Tebow keeps winning games even though he can’t play quarterback at the NFL level. Each improbable victory drives these pundits more and more over the edge and their frustration at not being able to explain or predict them is delightful to observe. Yesterday, one of the ESPN analysts finally ran out of answers and with a straight face said that the only thing that could explain Tebow’s success was divine intervention.
I’m not sure about that, but it is refreshing that in our age of abundant information, credentialed expertise, and unshakable belief that we have the answer to every question, a phenomena like Tim Tebow can come along and throw a wrench into the whole hubristic works. Scientists weren’t really able to explain how bees could fly until 2005. It’s still not clear exactly how or why giraffes evolved to have such long necks. And no one-no matter how they know about football-can explain why Tim Tebow just keeps winning football games even though he has no business doing so. Isn’t it wonderful?
So I say we all quite worrying and embrace the mystery that is Tim Tebow. How long will it last? When will it end? Who cares? Just enjoy the ride and savor the spectacle of all those NFL “experts” who keep pulling their hair out trying to figure it out.
The Nihilist ponders the mystery of Tebow:
The success of Tim Tebow stands in stark contrast to that of fellow rookie Christian Ponder, now the starter for our local losers. Statistically, Ponder is the more productive quarterback, averaging 208 yards passing and 236 total yards per start to Tebow's 112 yards passing and 183 total yards per start. In terms of points scored per start, the offenses are nearly identical at 19 points per game. Yet Ponder is getting little praise at 1-4 and the national media loves Tebow and his 5-1 record.
So why are the Broncos having success while the Vikings struggle? Is Tebow's superior leadership driving his team to victory? Hardly. The answer is defense. In Tebow's six starts, the Broncos have given up 20 points per game. In Ponder's five starts, the Vikings have given up 30 points per game, a 10 point difference. If you added 10 points to the Broncos opponent's score, Tebow would be 1-5 instead of 5-1. Likewise, if you subtracted 10 points from the Vikings opponent's score, Ponder would be 3-1-1 instead of 1-4.
When Denver's defense falters, Tebow will be exposed for what he is: a curiousity talented college player with the wrong skill set for the NFL.
The Elder Makes A Half-time Adjustment
Nihilist, your skepticism regarding Tebow, while predictable, is well-argued. However, you might want to consider this while comparing Ponder to Tebow. Despite the Vikings defensive shortcomings, did Ponder still have the opportunity to pull off victories in those losses in the manner that Tebow has done?
The first Green Bay game? Definitely.
The second Green Bay game? Absolutely not.
The Oakland game? Yes.
The Atlanta game? It's not as clear cut, but with the Vikings down by ten with five minutes left they had the ball near the Atlanta goal line. If Ponder can punch it in, they cut the lead to three and have a chance to win. Recall that Tebow lead the Broncos back from a 15-0 deficit late in the fourth quarter against Miami.
So you could legitimately say that despite the defense, Ponder had a chance to win three of the four games he has lost. I'm not blaming him for the losses and frankly feel much better about his future prospects as an NFL quarterback than Tebow, but you at least have to give Tebow some credit for winning those games in the fourth quarter. Yes, the Broncos defense made it possible by keeping them in the game. But Tebow still had to finish and as ugly as it has looked at times, he has done just that.
It'll be fun to watch them go head-to-head this Sunday.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Dislike of atheists is directly tied to a belief that they're untrustworthy, a new study shows.
Researchers gave 105 students at the University of British Columbia a description of a generic ne'er-do-well—for example, he finds a wallet on the street, takes the cash and tosses the wallet.
Participants were asked: Was this man more likely to be a "teacher" or a "teacher and an atheist"? As an alternative to teacher, other groups got "teacher and a Christian," "teacher and a Muslim" or "teacher and a rapist."
Among the students, 48% who got the "teacher and atheist" option chose it, roughly the proportion opting for "teacher and rapist." The figure for "teacher and Muslim" was 15%, for "teacher and Christian" it was 4%.
The PR campaign by those loveable "New Atheists" continues to pay off, doesn't it? Why if this sort of progress continues, it'll only be a few years before people trust them more than rapists.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The first, was an editorial called The Non-Green Jobs Boom:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.
The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota's Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.
The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation's lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.
Or take production in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale formation, which the state Department of Labor and Industry says created 18,000 new jobs in the first half of 2011. Some 214,000 jobs are now tied to a natural gas industry that barely existed in the Keystone State a decade ago. Energy firms are also rushing to develop the Utica shale in eastern Ohio, and they are expanding operations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, among other places.
Good news? You'd think so, but liberals can't seem to handle this truth so they are now trying to discredit the jobs that accompany it. The American Petroleum Institute recently commissioned a study by the Wood Mackenzie consulting firm, which estimated that better federal energy policy would create an additional 1.4 million jobs by 2030.
I still find it stunning that a leader of any country would not embrace opportunities to create jobs and secure more stable sources of energy. In fact, there are few other world leaders besides President Obama who limit their own country's abilities to develop energy sources as our current president has. If the 2012 election were a referendum on energy policy alone, I would expect that any Republican candidate would easily have the upper hand versus President Obama as developing America's energy resources and creating jobs is such a common sense solution that an overwhelming majority of Americans would support it.
The second was a front page article on how even in these times of high unemployment, companies are still struggling to fill jobs that require technical skills (sub req):
Her challenge is a familiar one to recruiters, especially in industries that require workers with trade skills such as welding. Union Pacific struggles to find enough electricians who have worked with diesel engines. Manufacturers in many places can't find enough machinists. Oil companies must fight for a limited supply of drilling-rig workers.
"There's a tremendous shortage of skilled workers," said Craig Giffi, a vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte. A recent survey it did found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.
Such scarcities can have an outsize effect. Though companies may be able to get their unskilled work done by shifting around existing staff or using temps, a shortage of skilled workers is harder to finesse. The Deloitte study found that 74% of manufacturers said a shortage of skilled production workers had a "significant negative impact" on either their productivity or expansion plans.
AAR Corp., a Chicago-based aviation-parts manufacturer, has 600 job openings, mostly for skilled trade jobs like welders and maintenance mechanics. Chief Executive David Storch said the shortage of workers has forced the company to pass up business and delay some manufacturing work. He said the company would like to start a third shift at its Indianapolis aircraft maintenance facility but has been unable to do so because of worker shortages.
"It's a little bit frustrating to sit around and talk about the ability to grow your business if you could only hire skilled people," Mr. Storch said.
For all the angst about jobs being outsourced overseas and the disappearing middle-class, the reality is that if there are plenty of jobs around (and there always will be) that require some technical training, but not a four-year college degree. Far too many people are going to college who have business being there, while far too few people are being trained in the technical trades that companies are looking for. These technical trades may not have the same top end that other careers that require a degree do, but most pay pretty well and provide workers with an opportunity to make a decent living and lead what has been traditionally regarded as the middle-class American life. As the Boomers continue to, in most cases at least, less than gracefully ease into retirement, the demand for this types of technical skills will continue to increase. Instead of pushing everyone down the college path, we need to create more opportunities for kids leaving high school to have access to the technical training they need and encourage them to explore them.
Friday, November 25, 2011
How we interact with other people has more impact on us, on a day to day basis, than any political issue. That's why we're creating an Every Day Ethics curriculum within our Life Studies Department.
Our newest course is from best-selling author, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin: When Telling the Truth Is Wrong. It deals with the thin line between ethical and unethical speech. This is a moral mirror most of us don't want to look into. Rabbi Telushkin approaches the subject with humor and honesty. He also poses a unique challenge. If you're up to it, it may change your life -- or that of someone you know.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
With Thanksgiving Day almost upon us the key question for beer lovers out there is: what brews should I be quaffing to properly celebrate the holiday? Note the plural beers there as Thanksgiving is after all a day to eat, drink, and be merry. Limiting yourself to one brand or even style of beer would be downright un-American. In last Saturday’s WSJ, William Bostick suggested
five beers to pair with your Thanksgiving feast (sub req). They included:
- AleSmith Grand Cru
- Deschutes Hop Trip
- Harpoon Winter Warmer
- Russian River Supplication
- Yuengling Traditional Lager
Decent choices I suppose, although I would quibble somewhat with the Yuengling Lager as there are far better session beers out there. The selection that I find most appealing and matches up most closely with my preferences for Thanksgiving beer is the Harpoon Winter Warmer. Although I rarely wait this late to start enjoying them, Thanksgiving is an excellent time to turn to winter beers. Especially when you can find those beers with the big flavors that you truly wish to be thankful for. Beers like Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale (a perennial standout), Avery’s Old Jubilation Ale, or Full Sail’s Wassail among others.
It’s also around this time of year when those of us in Northern climes can start taking advantage of our garages for storing our stockpiles of beer. I like to have at least a twelve-pack or two of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and Summit Winter Ale on hand in my garage at all times from late-November until March. This is a compliment to my usual beer stock in the downstairs fridge and provides a key component of the SBR (Strategic Booze Reserve) that all concerned citizens should have in case of emergency.
So rather than fight the coming of winter, it’s better to embrace it and enjoy the delicious style of beers that bear its name. Starting this week and going at least up until Christmas, the focus here will be on winter beers. We start with Alaskan Brewing Company-a brewer that should know a thing or two about the season-and their Winter Ale:
English Olde Ale. Traditionally malty with the warming sensation of alcohol, Olde Ales are brewed in the fall as winter warmers.
Brewed in the style of an English Olde Ale, this ale balances the sweet heady aroma of spruce tips with the clean crisp finish of noble hops. Its malty richness is complemented by the warming sensation of alcohol.
From the seafaring adventurers of the 1700s to the homebrewers of today, adding spruce tips to beer has a rich history in Southeast Alaska. Alaskan Winter Ale was first released by the Brewery in 2000.
Alaskan Winter is made from glacier-fed water, Sitka spruce tips and a generous blend of the finest quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and specialty malts. Our water originates in the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall we receive each year.
Perfect winter warmer by the fireside or an accompaniment to holiday fare. Serve with roast goose, turkey, ham or lamb. A nice complement to holiday breads, pound cake, or apple pie.
THE STORY BEHIND THE LABEL
Throughout Southeast Alaska, bald eagles can be spotted landing atop the towering old growth forests of Sitka spruce trees. As many as 3,000 bald eagles congregate among these evergreen trees on the shores of the Chilkat River for the last large run of salmon before winter. Sitka spruce trees carry a significance of their own to local Alaskans. The tender new growth of the spruce tips lends a delicious, yet subtly sweet floral aroma to teas, jelly and now our Alaskan Winter Ale.
I love that they care enough to give us the story behind the label. Labels matter and like most of Alaskan’s offerings they put some effort into their winter ale. This one has a bluish-purple background and a serenely still winter scene of a bald eagle gliding onto a snow-covered spruce with the moon looming in the back. 12oz short brown bottle.
Alcohol by Volume: 6.4%
COLOR (0-2): Copper gold and clear. 2
AROMA (0-2): Malt with some tart fruit. Pretty light. 1
HEAD (0-2): Bright white color. Thick and foamy. Moderate volume with good retention. 2
TASTE (0-5): Like the aroma, the taste is mostly caramel malts with a touch of cranberry. Hops are mostly muted. The presence of any flavor from the spruce tips is inconsistent. On one beer I could pick them up, on the next they were absent. The body is on the lighter side and it’s quite drinkable, especially for a winter warmer. 3
AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth finish that lasts. 2
OVERALL (0-6): A perfectly acceptable beer that would most of your guests would gladly give thanks for (especially if they’re the type hankering to have more than one). At like all Alaskan offerings, it’s now on sale at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits for $6.99 a six pack so the price is definitely right. But when it comes to what you typically find with winter beers, it’s underwhelming. I’m looking for a fuller, richer flavors in my winter beers and in that area Alaskan’s Winter Ale is really rather pedestrian. 3
TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13
"Judging by the destination of sales by affiliates in those countries," the economists wrote in a recent survey, "the goal of the U.S. multinational corporations' expanded production was to primarily sell to local customers rather than to reduce their labor costs for goods and services destined for sale in the U.S., Western Europe and other high-income countries."
This is a critical, but often overlooked explanation of why US companies have added more jobs overseas than at home. Sure, there are indeed companies who have shut down factories in the US and now have the same goods produced at a lower cost elsewhere. But the stronger driving force is that US companies want to have operations where the new customers are.
For most American firms, the US and Europe are mature markets with steady (hopefully) but slow growth. The real opportunities for new growth are in the developing markets in Asia and Latin America (and even in Russia to a lesser extent). In order to realize this growth potential and serve customers in these developing markets, US companies have had to invest with factories, sales offices, and yes people. More and more companies have realized how difficult it is to supply global markets from one location have moved to a strategy of local supply and sourcing to support customers in particular geographic locations. This and not an absolute pursuit of lower labor costs is the primary reason that American firms have and continue to make signficant investments in foreign countries.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Ultimately, the committee did not succeed because we could not bridge the gap between two dramatically competing visions of the role government should play in a free society, the proper purpose and design of the social safety net, and the fundamentals of job creation and economic growth.
A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell:
Sowell, an economist and author (The Economics and Politics of Race, etc.), presents a provocative analysis of the conflicting visions of human nature that have shaped the moral, legal and economic life of recent times. For the past 200 years, he writes, two visions ofor "gut feelings" abouthow the world works, have dominated: the constrained vision, which views man as unchanged, limited and dependent on evolved social processes (market economies, constitutional law, etc.); and the unconstrained vision, which argues for man's potential and perfectability, and the possibility of rational planning for social solutions. Examining the views of thinkers who reflect these constrained (Adam Smith) and unconstrained (William Godwin) visions, Sowell shows how these powerful and subjective visions give rise to carefully constructed social theories. His discussion of how these conflicting attitudes ultimately produce clashes over equality, social justice and other issues is instructive.
If only there was some way this current conflict could be resolved...like an election.
And if only there was a candidate who could articulate that limited view...
Monday, November 21, 2011
1. It leaves us open to legitimate charges of inconsistency. If we truly support free markets and don’t believe that government should favor pet industries or interests then let’s live up to those principles.
2. It makes us seem unserious. When you talk about a looming fiscal crisis that threatens the country’s future, but then balk as soon as anyone suggests changing something that you support, it’s easy for people to dismiss the threat and your commitment to meeting it.
3. It makes it almost impossible to achieve any sort of real , meaningful tax reform. The reality is that if you want a simpler, flatter tax code with lower rates, you’re going to have to give up some or even maybe all of the current deductions.
Michael Barone probably knows more about American politics than anyone alive today. And the noted sage says that it’s time to Put Tax Breaks for Mortgages, Local Taxes on Table. Barone begins his piece with the salient point that if you want to be able to pull off tax reform that matters you need to go to where the money is:
The problem in putting such a measure together is that most really egregious tax preferences don't add up to much money. Just as the big money for long-term spending cuts must come from changes in entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- so the big money you can get from eliminating tax preferences comes from three provisions that are widely popular.
The three are the charitable deduction, the home mortgage interest deduction, and the state and local tax deduction.
The charitable deduction should probably be off the table. The Obama administration has proposed reducing it for high earners. But this obvious attempt to channel flows of money away from the voluntary sector and toward the federal government went nowhere even when Democrats controlled the House and had a supermajority in the Senate. It's anathema to many Democrats and just about all Republicans.
For conservatives, the revenue lost on charitable deductions is a small price to pay to be able to limit the scope and power of the government by allowing charities to provide services instead (usually more efficiently and at a lower cost as well). But we should be more open to changes in the other big ticket deductions.
The home mortgage interest deduction may seem similarly sacrosanct. But the fact that the vast bulk of the "tax expenditures" -- the money the government doesn't receive because taxpayers deduct mortgage interest payments from total income -- goes to high earners with big, expensive houses.
Traditionally it's been argued that government should provide incentives for homeownership because homeowners more than renters have a stake in their community. But it's obvious now that we have over-incentivized homeownership, with government encouraging loans to noncreditworthy borrowers.
At the same time, high earners don't need an incentive to buy a home. If we limit the mortgage interest deduction to some amount near the median housing price, some folks will still buy $1 million homes, though they may finance them a little differently. And the government can get more revenue without an economy-crushing tax rate increase.
This proposal wouldn’t eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, but rather limit it. And it’s something that could be phased in so that those who purchased homes (and budgeted) under the assumptions that the current deduction would continue wouldn’t be adversely impacted.
Similarly, what about a cap on the state and local tax deduction? Initial conservative reaction will likely be hostile: Why increase some people's federal tax bills? Isn't that attacking a core Republican constituency?
Actually, it's not and not. The state and local tax deduction is worth a lot more to high earners than to modest earners, and it's worth nothing to the nearly half of households that don't pay federal income tax.
But it's worth the most to high earners in high-tax, high-spending states. Those people are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. The 2008 exit poll tells the story.
Nationally, voters with incomes over $100,000 voted 49 percent to 49 percent in the presidential race. Those with incomes over $200,000 voted 52 percent to 46 percent for Barack Obama.
In high-tax, high-spending states, Obama did even better with high earners. He carried $100,000-plus voters with 55 percent in Connecticut, 56 percent in New York, 52 percent in New Jersey, 55 percent in Maryland, 54 percent in Illinois and 57 percent in California.
All those states have high state income taxes except for Illinois, and it increased its income tax rate by two-thirds earlier this year. And those states contain a huge share of the nation's highest-priced housing.
In contrast, in low-tax, low-spending states with relatively inexpensive housing, $100,000-plus voters favored John McCain, who won 65 percent of their votes in Texas, 55 percent in Florida and 61 percent in Georgia.
It is no coincidence that the high-tax, high-spending states tend to have strong public employee unions. In effect, the unlimited state and local tax deduction is a federal subsidy of the indefensibly high pay, benefits and pensions of public employee union members. Limiting the state and local tax deduction would create a political incentive to hold those costs down.
Talk about getting the most bang for your buck. You not only bring in revenue to help offset the need to raise taxes elsewhere, you also ratchet up the pressure on states to reduce their unsustainable expenditures on salaries and benefits for public employees. A true win-win for conservatives.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
- The evergreen topic of the GOP Presidential nomination race, with me fanning the flames behind Newt's ascendancy and John dousing it with his cold Romney realism.
- The latest developments with the OWS movement, with sound clip cameos by Maxine Waters and some dude in San Diego expressing solidarity with the White House shooter.
- A look into the "Patriotic Millionaires" asking for higher taxes
- What we can expect from the Super Committee on the Budget, which is scheduled to report its findings next week.
- The latest developments in Power Line's investigation into the awful NPR reporting on South Dakota child protection services.
- This Week in Gatekeeping and Loon of the Week.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Among the many Minnesota based craft brewers that have sprung up in recent years is Brau Brothers Brewing Company. Brau Brothers is located in the booming metropolis of Lucan, which is located in the southwestern part of the state, a couple, two three hours from the Twin Cities. Lucan boasts a population of two-hundred-and-twenty souls, including the three brothers whose name the brewery bears. If your German is a bit rusty that surname aptly translates to “brew” or “beer.”
Our selection from Brau Brothers is their special seasonal Hundred Yard Dash Fresh Hop Ale.
So what exactly is a fresh or wet hop beer anyway? Fresh Hop Beer? Wet Hop Beer? What is it?:
On Monday we got to brew the first of our three fresh hop beers. Some people refer to these at Wet Hop Beers. But what really does that mean? A Fresh/Wet hop beer is a beer that you make using hops that were pulled from the field within 24 hours of brewing the beer. Most hops are dried, concentrating the lupulin and alpha acids that provide the bitterness, flavor and aroma to the beers that hopheads have come to love. These hops are “wet” because their water content is 80-90% of the total weight. In dried hops, you only have about 10-20% water weight. This type of hop addition adds a different flavor and aroma and you have to use A LOT more (5-7X more) but there is no doubt that you have the freshest of the fresh with little to no oxidation problems that some stored hops can have.
Now, that’s fresh. And in this case, the hops come from Brau Brothers’ own hopyard, which features eleven different varieties and is the largest in the state.
12oz brown bottle. Two-tone green label has bold font and a background overflowing with hoppy goodness.
Alcohol by Volume: 6.8%
COLOR (0-2): Golden brown, mostly clear. 2
AROMA (0-2): Delicious aromas of citrusy hops with a little sweetness. 2
HEAD (0-2): White color, fluffy consistency, good volume and lacing. 2
TASTE (0-5): Strong hoppy flavors of grapefruit and pine as you would expect but with more caramel malt balance than last year’s version (as pointed out by Mark). Nicely bitter, but not overly so. Some grassy and almost peaty flavors as well. Mouthfeel is smooth and it has a medium body. It has a bit of a bite, but overall it’s rather drinkable. 4
AFTERTASTE (0-2): Pleasant and lasting. 2
OVERALL (0-6): A very nice fresh hopped beer. Strong flavors that don’t go too far in favor of hops and nothing else. It’s definitely a beer that you don’t want to drink straight from the fridge. You really can’t appreciate the full flavor profile unless you let it warm and breathe a bit (something I learned from experience). The only qualm I have with Brau Brother’s One Hundred Yard Dash is the price. At $11.99 a six-pack it’s a bit on the steep side and while this is a very good fresh hopped IPA, it’s not quite in the class of say Surly’s Wet. 4
TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16
Thursday, November 17, 2011
He was eighty-years-old and had lead a full and rich life. He served in the Air Force and was a Korean War veteran. He loaded weapons on aircraft-first P-51s, later F-86s-during that war and was very proud of his service to his country. His patriotism and love for America was simple and pure. He always flew the flag (and always properly), always celebrated national holidays, and never questioned whether the United States was the greatest nation on earth. He knew in his heart that it was.
He was married to his wife Dorothy for fifty-eight years and they raised five children together. He lost two sons in accidents at early ages, but managed to work through that unimaginable pain with his family and carry on with life. He had eight grandchildren and they brought great joy, pride, and many smiles to him.
He owned a bar for nineteen years (and is probably mixing drinks for St. Peter as we speak). He also sold candy, radio advertising (for which he might have to spend a little time in purgatory if he wasn’t Lutheran), and worked for a liquor distributor before retiring. He liked to talk to people and was able to find ways to make a living doing just that. And he was a volunteer fireman and member of the American Legion.
In his spare time, he liked to fish, golf, and do woodworking projects. He always insisted on making things right even if that meant taking more time to do so. Sometimes, that insistence was frustrating to those of us just looking to get things done, but now we can really appreciate the quality and integrity of everything made by his hands.
From the first time I met him, he welcomed me into his family with warmth and friendship. I always appreciated that he was equally comfortable talking or just sitting quietly while we drank beer and watched a game on television. We always used to gather around his basement bar during the holidays and share some cheer. It’s not going to be the same without him there, but I'm certain that we'll all raise a glass in his memory.
Darrvel Bohnen Rest In Peace
Within days of the Keystone decision, Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said his country would divert sales of the Keystone-intended oil to Asia. Translation: Those lost American blue-collar pipeline jobs are disappearing into the Asian sun. Incidentally, Mr. Harper has said he wants to turn Canada into an energy "superpower," exploiting its oil, gas and hydroelectric resources. Meanwhile, the American president shores up his environmental base in Hollywood and on campus. Perhaps our blue-collar work force should consider emigrating to Canada.
Recall as well the president's gut reaction in 2010 to the BP Gulf oil spill: an order shutting down deep-water drilling in U.S. waters. The effect on blue-collar workers in that industry was devastating. Writing in these pages this week, Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski described how Mexico, the Russians, Canada and even Cuba are moving to exploit oil and gas deposits adjacent to ours, while the Obama administration slow-walks new drilling permits.
No subject sits more centrally in the American political debate than the economic plight of the middle class. Presumably that means people making between $50,000 and $175,000 a year. The president fashions himself their champion.
This surely is bunk. Mr. Obama is the champion of the public-sector middle class. Just as private business has become an abstraction to the new class of public-sector Democratic politicians and academics who populate the Obama administration, so too the blue-collar workers employed by them have become similarly abstracted.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
BEIJING (Reuters) - A two-year-old Chinese girl run over by two different vehicles and ignored by passersby died on Friday, state media said, in a case which ignited public uproar over what some called a moral numbness seeping through society.
Both drivers who ran over the girl have been arrested, but Internet users have flooded microblogs decrying the apathy of the people who left her for dead, after graphic footage from a security camera of the incident went viral.
Wang Yue died of brain failure more than a week after the accident in Foshan in the far southern province of Guangdong, Xinhua news agency said.
"The hospital went all out and made utmost effort to save her. But ... her injuries were too severe and the treatment had no effect," Su Lei, the director of the Guangzhou Military Hospital's intensive care unit, told a news conference.
The surveillance video from the October 13 hit-and-run, aired by a television station, shows the girl run over by a van, which drives off leaving her to bleed on a narrow street.
More than a dozen people over the next seven minutes walk or drive past the girl on bicycles and she is run over by a second truck. A woman then pulls the girl to the side of the street before her mother, a migrant worker, rushes into the frame.
China's economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism replacing morals.
Vox Day was not among those who blamed materialism. Instead, he offered the insight that we shouldn't be surprised that people would react in such a manner when they have been brought up in a society that devalues girls:
It is sheer lunacy to attempt to blame capitalism for the more than a dozen people who walked by, indifferent to the suffering of the dying little girl. These are people who have been taught for the entirety of their existence that a) there are too many people and b) killing little girls is a social good. Now they're supposed to suddenly switch gears because there is one less undesirable little girl to overpopulate China?
Quite clearly, that's not going to happen. There is nothing wrong with those Chinese individuals that isn't the result of social engineering. This is the New Chinese Man that Mao wanted to create. They aren't monsters so much as they are the product of a monstrous society, raised from birth to be blind to the suffering and death of little girls.
Vox is definitely on target with this explanation.
Another factor that I don't think has gotten enough attention is the role of religion or more specifically the lack of it. For although we keep hearing stories about the rise of Christianity in China, it remains a largely irreligious country. I found it interesting that the stories about this incident didn’t mention religion outright even as they danced around it.
"But cases when dying persons aren't given help, or when good Samaritans get into trouble, are often widely reported in the media, which tends to make the public concerned."
The provincial capital, Guangzhou, plans a law to protect good Samaritans and give rewards of up to 500,000 yuan for such actions, the newspaper added.
Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed. High-profile lawsuits have ended with good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.
So just where did this concept of the “good Samaritan” come from anyway? Even in the now largely secular West, the foundations of Christian morality are deep and strong enough that most people still adhere (loosely in some areas) to a Judeo-Christian moral code even if they don’t consider themselves religious or even realize the basis of their morality. The same can’t be said for China. It’s more than a little disconcerting that a country that seems poised to become increasingly powerful and influential on the world stage really has no religious foundation to speak of and that a majority of its citizens have no religion at all. The last time we faced a situation that was in some respects similar was with the Soviet Union.
But fear not, the Party will take care of this lack of morality among Chinese citizens:
The provincial Communist Party chief, Wang Yang, urged "searching reflection" on the incident, the official Guangzhou Daily reported.
"Take active and effective steps to raise the moral standards of the entire society," he told a meeting of province officials, according to the paper.
Michael Gerson opines that Obama's Catholic strategy is in shambles:
In 2009, Notre Dame University set off months of intra-Catholic controversy by inviting a champion of abortion rights to deliver its commencement address. When the day arrived, President Obama skillfully deflated the tension. He extended a “presumption of good faith” to his anti-abortion opponents. Then he promised Catholics that their anti-abortion convictions would be respected by his administration.
Catholics, eager for reassurance from a leader whom 54 percent had supported, were duly reassured. But Obama's statement had the awkward subordinate clauses of a contentious speechwriting process. Qualifications and code words produced a pledge that pledged little.
Now the conscience protections of Catholics are under assault, particularly by the Department of Health and Human Services. And Obama's Catholic strategy is in shambles.
Most of Obama's Catholic problems revolve around his health care plan and the shell games that Democrats played to garner Cathoic support for it. Promises that abortions wouldn't be funded under the plan and that conscience protections would be in place have turned out to meaningless now that the implementation has begun. Ryan Anderson had a detailed piece on the problems that ObamaCare a.k.a. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) poses for pro-lifers in the August-September edition of First Things:
Each state will have a different distribution of plans, but since the law requires only that one plan not cover abortion, a family may be unable to find a plan that both meets its needs and does not cover abortion. PPACA will force such citizens either to sign up for an inadequate health plan or be complicit in abortion. Either way, the Health Insurance Exchanges and their segregation of funds will establish, for the first time in American history, federally subsidized plans that cover abortion.
In addition to PPACA’s funding of abortions and subsidizing of abortion plans, pro-lifers should be concerned about its lack of adequate conscience protections and what this might mean given an increased role for federally funded health care. When the Senate was drafting the bill, it explicitly rejected the Weldon Amendment, long-accepted language that provides conscience protection for those opposed to abortion, particularly for health-care providers. That the Senate refused to include this longstanding language should give pro-lifers pause, especially given the role that abortion interests played in drafting the reform. Conscience protections that apply in most other areas of federal law do not apply to PPACA.
While PPACA prohibits health-care plans that qualify to participate in state health insurance exchanges from discriminating against any health-care provider or facility because of its unwillingness to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions, it does not encompass refusals to train for abortion. More importantly, it does not protect health-care entities against discrimination by various government entities or institutions receiving federal funds. Federally funded insurance companies could legally refuse to cover hospitals and physicians unless they perform abortions, and federally funded hospitals could refuse to employ doctors unless they agree to perform abortions.
The protection from discrimination by governmental actions defined in PPACA is limited to procedures designated as assisted suicide, so-called mercy killings, and euthanasia. While abortion cannot be classified as an “essential health benefit” according to the new law, it can be classified under other categories of mandated services. Each of these categories is left to the Secretary of HHS to define. Thus HHS can declare that abortion is one of the services that any health-care plan or provider must perform in order to be eligible for federal funding. As more and more of the health-care industry comes to rely on federal funding, pro-life doctors and hospitals—particularly religious institutions—might very well find themselves squeezed out of the market.
Federal funding for abortion and inadequate conscience protections are the main problems, from a pro-life perspective, with PPACA. While there can be reasonable disagreement within the pro-life community about many aspects of the health-care debate, on this pro-lifers must speak out with one voice: Abortion is not health care. It provides neither protection in law nor care in life. Any health-care reform that funds abortion, funds plans that cover abortion, or allows for federally funded discrimination against pro-life doctors and hospitals, is not authentic health-care reform and must be either remade or replaced.
It should be clear by now (and should have been in 2008) that you can be pro-life or pro-Obama, but not both. Catholics who thought they could in good conscience keep a foot in both camps will now have to choose.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
So when an article appears headlined Europe, China, U.S.: Whose Economy Has It Worst? as it did in last Saturday’s WSJ, the answer may seem to be obvious. Sure, the US might still be better off than the now hopelessly divided and increasingly fragmented Europeans, but we can’t compare to the rising power of China. It’s the future and the United States is the past, right?
Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini (he of the moniker “Dr. Doom”) beg to differ:
But the longer-term future appears much brighter for the U.S. than for either Europe or China. America is still the leader in the kind of cutting-edge technology that expands a nation's long-term economic potential, from renewable energy and medical devices to nanotechnology and cloud computing. Over time, these advantages will yield more robust economic growth.
The U.S. also has a demographic advantage. In Europe, declining birthrates and rising sentiment against immigration point toward a population that will shrink by as much as 100 million people by 2050. In China, thanks in part to its one-child policy, the working population has already begun to contract. By 2030, nearly 250 million Chinese will have passed the age of 65, and providing them with pensions and health care will be very costly.
Despite debate over illegal immigration, the U.S. population will likely rise from 310 million to about 420 million by midcentury. Between 2000 and 2050, according to Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group, the U.S. workforce is expected to grow by 37%. China's will shrink by 10%. Europe's will contract by 21%.
Finally, despite the rising exasperation of the American public, the U.S. is significantly more likely than Europe or China to quit kicking the can down the road. Nothing much will change during the election year, but 2013 offers a chance for real fiscal reform.
Next November, Republicans are likely to win both houses of Congress. If a Republican is elected president, the GOP will face enormous public pressure to deliver on its reform promises. Even if President Obama is re-elected, the outlook for a grand bargain is bright. He would be free of the most immediate demands of electoral politics, and like other second-term presidents, he could begin to consider his legacy.
Make no mistake: The challenges that the U.S. faces are formidable, and persistent political gridlock could delay badly needed fiscal and structural reforms. But everything is relative, and the best can to be kicking down the road just now is undoubtedly the one made in America.
Given the current lack of courage and will among America’s political class to tackle the looming fiscal problems facing the country, it might be difficult to accept their judgment about the quality of the can that we keep booting. But in relation to Europe and China, it is still possible to harbor hope that the US may actually be able to get its house in order after all.
I too found The Atlantic piece noteworthy, particularly this section:
In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."
The statement on the absolute need for introverts to have some time alone rang true for me. I really notice this when I travel for business. After two or three days of being with people all day at work and then usually rejoining them in the evening for dinner, I reach a breaking point where the desire to spend the night alone almost becomes a physical longing. Calling this a restorative for introverts akin to sleeping perfectly captures the feelings I experience.
Usually after a night away from the crowd, my social batteries are recharged and I'm ready to once again interact in a constructive manner with my fellow humans. Not getting a chance to have this alone time however has the opposite effect and I end up feeling both physically and mentally drained. This need for occasional solitude is most definitely not appreciated by all and can potentially lead to awkward social situations. One would hope that Rauch's article helps more people understand that for us introverts it's not personal, sometimes we just really need to be alone.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Delay Hits Canada Oil Goals (WSJ-sub req):
Keystone XL was intended to bring oil to Gulf Coast refiners, bypassing a growing refining bottleneck in the U.S. Midwest. While essentially all the oil shipped via the pipeline would be consumed in the U.S., Canadian crude reaching the Gulf would displace crude shipped in from elsewhere, which in turn would affect global pricing. The delay could further depress already-discounted prices for Canadian crude, threatening to slow new investment in oil-sands projects.
"By 2015, without new pipeline solutions to bring oil sands barrels to markets outside the Midwest (such as the US Gulf Coast), oil-sands production growth could stall for lack of new demand," Jackie Forrest, and IHS CERA analyst, wrote Friday. Even if Keystone XL is approved early in 2013, the very soonest it could be operational would be late 2014.
Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil Ltd., majority-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., said the company had been relying on Keystone XL to transport supply from its Kearl oil-sands project, expected to come online next year, to the Gulf Coast. He called the line part of Canada's "critical infrastructure."
Industry executives and analysts say the delay could accelerate current plans for new pipelines, eventually easing any bottleneck. Shippers may also turn increasingly to more expensive rail exports.
The Harper government has lobbied hard for prompt approval, and has recently signaled it would look for other markets—notably China—for its crude. Another Canadian pipeline company is pushing for regulatory approval for a separate line, from Alberta westward to British Colombia and the Pacific coast, where oil could be loaded onto ships.
Postponing the creation of much needed construction jobs, possibly retarding further development of one of the most secure and reliable sources to meet America's energy needs, and pushing our friendly neighbors to the north into the arms of China? Well played Mr. President, well played.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Schell's Brewing Company is a well-known Minnesota brewery which has been producing beer on its grounds just outside of New Ulm for over one-hundred-and-fifty years. They recently rolled out a special collection of beers that they call The Stag Series:
Drawing upon our 150 years of brewing knowledge, we are combining our experience, creativity, and curiosity with these new brews. The Stag Series is collection of innovative and experimental, limited-edition beers to be released periodically throughout the year.
Somehow I missed the first three beers in The Stag Series. Number Four is our beer of the week The Burton Ale:
Before India Pale Ales were synonymous with Burton upon Trent, there was Burton Ale, a darker, sweeter beer. Burton Ales were so popular, in fact, that as recent as 1948, it was considered one of the four main types of British draught beer, sitting beside mild, pale ale, and stout.
More so than perhaps any other beer style in history, the demise of Burton Ales happened amazingly fast. Brewers, faced with the consumer preference for bitters and lagers saw sales of Burton and mild ales plummet. By the end of the 1960s Burton ales were virtually gone.
Schell’s Burton Ale is a nod to a forgotten style of beer. It has a soothing blend of bready malt and hop bitterness. A mild woodsy character is prevalent. A hint of dark pitted fruit and a trace of caramel give the beer a subtle sweetness. The pleasant hop bitterness at the end gives Schell’s Burton Ale a smooth, dry finish.
To begin crafting this brew, we used traditional floor malted Fawcett Maris Otter as a base. The malt bill also includes torrified wheat and two different British Crystal malts. As is traditional for British brewers, we added sugar in the kettle, in our case turbinado and some Dark Candi Syrup. Our Burton Ale is hopped with Nugget and Goldings, fermented with a British ale yeast, dry-hopped, and aged for 3 months prior to release.
Burton Ale? Never heard of it. This should be interesting.
12oz brown bottle. label features classic Schell's look with blue and grey colors.
Alcohol by Volume: 8.0%
COLOR (0-2): Copper brown and clear. 2
AROMA (0-2): Bready and a little sour. 2
HEAD (0-2): Good volume, off-white color, with good retention. 2
TASTE (0-5): Mostly malty with flavors of toasted biscuit, caramel, nuts, and a touch of sugar. Hops are more muted, but come in nicely at the end. Very smooth and creamy mouthfeel that doesn't have much carbonation. Medium-bodied and although you can definitely pick up the alcohol, it's pretty drinkable. 3
AFTERTASTE (0-2): Nice bitter, slightly sour finish. 2
OVERALL (0-6): If you like that distinct flavor that many English ales have, you will enjoy this beer. And if even if you don't, you still might like The Burton Ale because it's got a taste that's all its own. The malt flavors are very complex and the creamy mouthfeel is sumptuous. The alcohol is not overpowering, but it does kind of sneak up on you in a good way. A great beer for late fall/early winter nights. 4
TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 15
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Occupy Oakland members vote to deposit $20,000 with Wells Fargo
Occupy Oakland has voted to deposit $20,000 with Wells Fargo Bank -- just days after Occupy protesters shattered windows of one of the bank's downtown Oakland branches during the group's attempt to stage a general strike in the embattled East Bay city.
The decision was posted at Occupy Oakland's site for its general assembly. According to the link, the group made the decision to deposit the $20,000 with Wells at a meeting on Monday night.
Well, I'm sure it was a close vote since the OWS rioters have loudly and repeatedly trashed Wells Fargo and other big banks for being evil organizations driven by greed and hatred for the average American. This must have really been a gut wrenching and difficult decision.
The general assembly voted 162 to 8 to approve a proposal to place the money with Wells Fargo.So a full 95% of the rioters' "general assembly" (nice nod to the UN, another useless group) don't even believe in one of their stated core principles. Sort of shines a light on the level of commitment and integrity these clowns have.
Occupy Oakland has delayed placing the funds into a credit union because the group is maneuvering to be considered a specialized type of organization. It wants to become an "unincorporated association," according to the Occupy Oakland minutes.
The group has filed papers with California's Secretary of State to gain that status. An unincorporated nonprofit association is formed for the purposes of an ad hoc common effort, which can range from a bake sale to major group activities.
State officials don't approve the formation of those associations immediately. Occupy Oakland legal representatives estimated it can take two weeks to be approved as an unincorporated nonprofit association.
Some members of the assembly, during the meeting, raised concerns about using Wells Fargo for the group's bank.
Well, 8 out of 170 did, at least.
"I understand that people aren't comfortable with that, but this is a time sensitive issue," one of the leaders of the general assembly stated, according to the minutes.
"It takes time to transfer funds to a credit union," one of the general assembly members stated, according to the minutes posted on the website. "We need to help people in jail now."
I'm sure as soon as the nonprofit approval comes through these idiots will yank their money out of there and stick it into a credit union at which point they can rejoin their efforts to destroy all evil banks which, if successful, would deprive 100% of Americans of the ability to do the same thing with their money.
I guess we can add the stink of hypocrisy to the rancid stench coming out of these OWS camps.
Have you seen this ad for Carhartt?
I would like to think this is a shot at President Obama's and his remarks about how Americans have lost their drive and innovation. The first time I saw this ad was shortly after President Obama's speech in California when he lamented that Americans no longer have the ability to take on projects like the Golden Gate Bridge. Granted, some of Carhartt's products are made outside the US, but that only strengthens the argument that tax reform is needed to help bring manufacturing jobs back to the US.
And along the lines of Obama's perception that Americans have lost their innovative ability and drive, the reality show "Gold Rush" on the History Channel is a perfect example of American drive, enterpreneurial spirit, and self-reliance. I was puttering around the garage last night and was thinking how this show is a reflection of current events. Last season, the miners worked to get to where they thought the significant gold deposits were. They were able to recover some gold but not enough to cover their expenses. Disappointed with their production, the claim-owner sent a colleague, "Dakota Fred", up to observe their operation. Just as the team was finally onto the gold, winter hit Alaska and they had to shut down. When they returned for the second season, Dakota Fred informed the team that he bought the claim and would be mining the gold with his own team (they should've known anybody from North Dakota is not to be trusted). This has left the original miners high and dry without a claim to work.
This show is one of the History Channel's most popular shows, because it is about typical Americans risking everything they have for the chance to hit it big, and most viewers want to see these guys become successful. The efforts of the miners are a direct reflection of many Americans who take risks, working long hours at their businesses for a chance at success, and Dakota Fred is a direct reflection of how our government, the EPA, and a multitude of environmental groups erect roadblocks in the way of American spirit, ingenuity, and self-reliance.
I just finished reading Glenn Beck's "Original Argument" and I remain in awe at how much foresight the framers of the Constitution possessed when they drafted that document. I'm also amazed today how much truer Ronald Reagan's line about the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
As a long time supporter of the man, my opportunity to say “I told you so!” now seems possible. I then plan to become as annoying as a rabid Archers of Loaf fan talking about how I’ve been in to them since their first EP.
Before I spend too much time perfecting my sneering pose, today’s analysis of Newt’s prospects by Nate Silver bears reading. He identifies the major impediments Gingrich faces that could stop him even if he is the best man on substance. Excerpt:
Overall, I would read three of these factors, establishment support, personal liabilities, and (especially) fund-raising, as being clearly negative for Mr. Gingrich. This contrasts against one, ideological positioning, which is potentially favorable for him. He has both strengths and weakness in the key early-voting states, meanwhile.
That balance is unfavorable enough to suggest that his chances of winning the nomination are weaker than his polls alone would imply. That certainly does not mean that his chances are zero, or 1,000-to-1 against. If Republican voters decide that they really don’t want to nominate Mitt Romney, Mr. Gingrich could be the last man standing. But even if Mr. Gingrich continues to gain in the polls, he will have some major weaknesses to overcome.
As always, his assertions are backed up with a solid logical foundation and persuasive argument. Although the number crunching support he usually provides is largely absent in this opinion piece. For some of that Nate Silver statistical magic, you can refer to this article from the New York Times magazine, handicapping Obama’s prospects for re-election next year.
Silver is also behind this slick interactive calculator, which rates the likelihood of a number of potential GOP nominees to win versus Obama, given various levels of GDP growth and Obama’s poll numbers in 2012.
Critics might say Silver’s liberal inclinations are exposed in his built-in assumptions, which result in the GOP candidate having the best chance under any scenario being .... John Huntsman. And the second best chance under any scenario goes to Mitt Romney. These determinations do have a basis in political science, an analysis of past election results and how they correlate with ideological positioning (extreme to moderate). Results show more moderate challengers to an incumbent President have won far more often than more ideologically extreme candidates.
The calculator does not include Newt Gingrich at all, perhaps an indication of how weak his prospects were considered to be, even a few weeks ago. Silver notes that Gingrich’s ideological positioning is closest to Rick Perry’s and his results can serve as an acceptable proxy.
Under this analysis, to overcome all of his shortcomings, a Gingrich victory in the general election would require something on the order of a stalled economy (<0.5.% GDP growth) at election time or Obama’s approval ratings to drop below 37%. Both of these are higher hurdles than would be faced by Huntsman, Romney or Herman Cain, who could theoretically win with greater economic growth levels and higher Obama approval ratings.
Given the diminished standing Gingrich’s reputation has among the general electorate, that overall conclusion strikes me as correct. He wouldn’t be as easy to elect as these other candidates, unless it’s a time of more acute crisis in 2012. That still wouldn’t change my vote in a primary election. It’s time to take a chance on the best man for the job.
Whoever his competitors are in Iowa and beyond, Mr. Gingrich faces a hard fight for the nomination. His greatest asset lies in his capacity to speak to Americans as he has done, with such potency, during the Republican debates. No candidate in the field comes close to his talent for connection. There's no underestimating the importance of such a power in the presidential election ahead, or any other one.
His rise in the polls suggests that more and more Republicans are absorbing that fact, along with the possibility that Mr. Gingrich's qualifications all 'round could well make him the most formidable contender for the contest with Barack Obama.
Break out those "It's Happening" t-shirts Saint Paul. I have a feeling the Gingrich bandwagon is going to be getting crowded in the days ahead.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The campaigning on behalf of a funding increase has been quiet this year. We’ve only received a couple of expensively produced mailing pieces from the school district testifying to their extraordinary accomplishments despite their poverty level funding levels. As annoying as having my tax dollars spent for public relations pieces lobbying for more tax dollars is, this approach has been a pleasant change from the threats, vandalism, and violence perpetrated the pro-levy campaign just a couple of years ago, the last time a funding increase was on the ballot.
The only counter campaigning I’ve seen was a couple of hand painted signs, posted on telephone polls in the neighborhood, saying simply: “Vote no”. This message was contested within 24 hours, on the same telephone polls, with hand painted signs saying: “Vote yes”. Picture here, courtesy of Patch.com.
On Sunday I noticed the voice of a third constituency had joined the conversation, with another hand painted sign saying: “On what?” Given this level of engagement with the issues, I take these to be the noble independent voters who refuse to be categorized by simplistic ideological labels. As with all elections in America these days, it is on their votes that the fate of the referendum hangs.
The sample ballot is provided here. As a service to the “On what?” army, excerpts and expert commentary follow:
SCHOOL DISTRICT BALLOT QUESTION 1 REVOKING EXISTING REFERENDUM REVENUE AUTHORIZATION; APPROVING NEW AUTHORIZATION
Note the term “Revoking”. That is a good reminder that the voters passed a referendum a couple of years ago greatly increasing funding, that was supposed to run through the 2014. I’m sure many voters took the time frame in consideration when they made their voting decision. The trade off of a tax increase for the chance to at least lock in the price for, in this case, 7 years. But it turns out the school district had an option to tear that up and demand more favorable terms. They're the CC Sabathia of school districts.
The board of Independent School District No. 834 (Stillwater Area Public Schools) has proposed to revoke the school district's existing referendum revenue authorization of $996.57 per pupil and to replace that authorization with a new authorization of $1,465 per pupil.
A request for a 47% increase in funding for an already rich school district is preposterous under any circumstances. But in the context of the supporting community over the past few years, with private sector wages declining and property values plummeting, this is one for the Chutzpah Hall of Fame.
The only saving grace is that this is a fixed amount and the education bureaucracy will have to live with a 47% increase and ONLY a 47% increase for the next seven years. Right?
The proposed new referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for seven years unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law.
Automatic inflation indexing? Social security recipients don’t even receive that. So the $1,465 per pupil is the entry level price, guaranteed to go up every year. Nice to know that if inflation takes off and we’re paying more for everything, the school district will be immune from any negative effects.
Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 834 be approved?
Nice of you to ask. NO.
SCHOOL DISTRICT BALLOT QUESTION 2 APPROVAL OF CAPITAL PROJECT LEVY AUTHORIZATIONAccording to the outgoing Superintendent of ISD 834, the benefit of this increase is:
The board of Independent School District No. 834 (Stillwater Area Public Schools) has proposed a capital project levy authorization of 1.25495% times the net tax capacity of the school district. The money raised by this authorization will provide funds for the purchase and installation of computers, printers, classroom audiovisual equipment and peripherals, interactive whiteboards, learning management systems, productivity and curriculum software, and staff development.
... it would provide more personalized learning and improved technology device-to-student ratios, according to Nelson.Because nothing says “personalized learning” like more reliance on technology devices.
The proposed capital project levy authorization will raise approximately $982,300 for taxes payable in 2012, the first year it is to be levied, and would be authorized for seven years. The estimated total cost of the projects to be funded over that time period is approximately $6,876,100. The projects to be funded have received a positive review and comment from the Commissioner of Education. Shall the capital project levy authorization proposed by the board of Independent School District No. 834 be approved?
Let me think about that for a moment, NO.
SCHOOL DISTRICT BALLOT QUESTION 3 APPROVAL OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BOND ISSUE
Shall the board of Independent School District No. 834 (Stillwater Area Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $18,375,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the renovation of existing and construction of new science labs at the Stillwater Area High School and the Oak-Land Junior High School facilities; the construction of new Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) labs at the Stillwater Area High School and the Oak-Land Junior High School facilities; and the updating of the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems at various school facilities.
Before you condemn me for being hasty, let’s recall the real story behind this $18 million request, again from the outgoing Superintendent:
Nelson pointed out that science labs are presently inadequate, and the state is adding science requirements for graduation. “You’ve got lab stations built for eight students and you’ve got 12 students standing around with gas and fire and chemicals,” he said.
A mere $18 million to prevent the impending firebombing 33% of the student population? Tempting, but .... NO.
You citizens asking “on what?” now have your information. It’s time to do your duty. Polls are open until 8pm. Good luck and may we all live to see the morning.
Ellison says his proposals are needed to "curb voter suppression" and protect the rights of young, elderly and minority voters. But while more than 140 recent convictions for voter fraud are documented in Minnesota alone, there's never been more than speculation about modern voter ID or registration laws disenfranchising voters.
In fact, voter ID laws have been challenged in the U.S. and state Supreme Courts in recent years, and have been upheld as constitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy, who initially blocked Georgia's voter ID law with a temporary restraining order based upon the hyperbolic speculation of mass voter disenfranchisement by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and the NAACP, wound up upholding the law after hearing the evidence.
Murphy found that the plaintiffs' failure, despite their efforts, to uncover anyone "'who can attest to the fact that he/she will be prevented from voting' provides significant support for the conclusion that the Photo ID requirement does not unduly burden the right to vote."
The net effect of Ellison's two bills would be to allow anyone and everyone to cast a ballot on Election Day without any mechanism to verify identity, citizenship and eligibility, or that people live in the state and precinct where they are voting. This is Minnesota's system.
While Ellison wants to impose Minnesota's flawed system on the rest of the country, there are on-going efforts to reform it here including some minimal requirements for identification at the polls. Ellison would describe such as efforts as "oppressive, "discriminatory," and no doubt "racist," but polls consistently show that around 70% of Minnesotans support such common sense measures to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
Ellison's proposals will likely get nowhere as they're more for show than anything else. We can hope that they will at least lead to some rational discussion of voter ID laws that move beyond the hysterical rhetoric employed by Ellison and other ID opponents.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Maybe he should try this approach instead, as articulated by Chris Rock in 1996:
What is sexual harassment?! What's the difference between sexual harassment and just being an idiot? I mean, if my father didn't harass my mother, I wouldn't be here!
I understand some sexual harassment. if a man is your boss and says, "Hey, sleep with me, or you're fired." That's sexual harassment. And that's the only thing that's sexual harassment! Everything else falls under "Just trying to get laid." You can't put a man in jail for that! I don't care how hard he tries, that's all he was trying to do! Anita Hill started this whole thing. It's all about looks, you know? Because if Clarence Thomas looked like Denzel Washington, this would have never happened! She'd be all, "Oh, stop it, Clarence, you nasty! Your fine self!" So, what's sexual harassment, when an ugly man wants some? "Oh, he ugly! Call the police! Call the authorities!"