Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a pretty quiet week here on Lake Winnipesaukee. I'm certainly not complaining. The two biggest events taking place here in town over the past week were a motorcycle crash and the annual hazardous waste disposal day.

Yes, I'm understating the case. But that's how it seems to me.


Okay, here's an example of something else that happened around the lake – the annual Antique & Classic Boat Show in Meredith Bay.

I make it up there about every other year to check out some of the really neat boats of bygone eras.

Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those years.


Most of the towns in the Lakes Region have a large number of summer residents. Some of those towns, including mine, hold what is in effect a Summer Town Meeting, which allows the summer residents to find out what's going on in town and to ask questions of town officials. The latest town to start such summer town meetings is Holderness.

It seems only fair as in some towns the summer residents pay a majority of the property taxes.

While the summer residents don't have a vote during the traditional town meetings in February or March, the summer sessions do allow them to voice their opinions and concerns with town spending that affects what they will pay in property taxes.


I've been giving some thought to the collision and crash of two TV news helicopters in Phoenix this past week. Is our insatiable desire to know what's going on 24/7 the real cause of the deaths of the four crewmen on board? Do we really need to know what's happening immediately, assuming there isn't some kind of an emergency?

These are questions we should be asking, both of ourselves and of the TV news operations.


In light of yesterday's post about federalism and Congress's moves to do way with it, I found that this post from our friends at GraniteGrok was another piece of evidence showing the arrogance of our representatives to the US House.

I would certainly call taking credit for passing a bill that they both voted against arrogance.


Jay Tea regales us with the tale of two out-of-town environmental activists that decided that they didn't like the idea of a truck stop being built on a vacant lot in Brattleboro, Vermont. Their actions got them the attention of the Brattleboro police. It also got them tasered more than once by the police because they refused to unchain themselves from a steel barrel rigged to make it difficult for the police to release them.

Personally I believe these two jerks got exactly what they deserved.


Did you know that the insurance industry uses your credit score as a factor in setting your insurance premiums? Neither did I.

I don't know if it is true in every state, but here in New Hampshire insurance companies are limited by law how they can use credit reports to set their rates. While there appears to be some correlation between a person's credit history and their frequency of insurance claims, it can't be used as the sole basis for setting a person's premium for auto or home insurance.


Charles Schwab says that all he's ever tried to do is to promote democratic capitalism.

I'd say he's succeeded.


Thomas Sowell quotes Winston Churchill:

"There was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action."

Churchill was talking about World War II and the failure to stop Adolph Hitler when the cost would have been small. Sowell quotes him in order to illustrate that the same thing may be said about Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's machinations some time in the not too distant future.

It doesn't help that Ahmadinejad may be trying to provoke a US strike against Iran in order to bolster his almost non-existent popularity with the Iranian people.


And that's the news in Lake Winnipesaukee, where the usual summer crowds have finally materialized, the lake traffic is almost back to 'normal', and where school will start again in a month.


Fred Thompson On Federalism

It's funny that I've heard little about federalism from any politician for many years. In fact, I think the last time I heard any politician mention it was sometime back in the early 1980's. Come to think of it it was Ronald Reagan that talked about federalism and how the US government had gotten too big for its britches. I miss those days.

Then comes along a modern day politician to remind us the it is the people and the states that are supposed to be the ones running the show, not the federal government.

The federalist construct of strong states and limited federal government put in place by our Founders was intended to give states the freedom to experiment and innovate. It envisions states as laboratories in competition with each other to develop ideas and programs to benefit their people, to see what works and what does not.

This ingenious means of governing a large and diverse nation prevailed for more than a century. But today our Constitution and the limited, federalist government it established, are considered by many to be quaint or out of touch with the world we live in, to be swept aside by political expediency.

That certainly sounds like what the Democrats are trying to do, sweep aside the work of the founders and all for political gain. It also proves that with all of the bad examples that are out there of large centralized governments and their failures, the Dems haven't learned the lessons of history. They are also proof of Santayana's conjecture that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Federalism is not an 18th century notion. Or a 19th century notion. It retains its force as a basic principle in the 21st century, because when federalism is ignored, accountability, innovation, and public confidence in government at all levels suffer.

We're already seeing this, at least at the federal level. Congress has the lowest approval rating that I've ever seen, at 14%. (Even Richard Nixon had a higher approval rating the day he left office, and that's saying something.) The people have no faith in Congress, seeing how it is they really don't have our best interests at heart. Instead it's all about them and how they can put the screws to the other party and the citizen be damned. We've also been seeing it here in New Hampshire where, once the Democrats captured both chambers of the state legislature, they've been doing their damnedest to make sure that we will have less and less say in how things are done and seem more than willing to take ever increasing amounts from the taxpayers to make sure it happens. They are willingly following the example set by Congress, and that's a bad thing. They are trying hard to roll back the progress that's been made over the past 20 years or so, taking us closer to their “Big Brother” ideal of government and abandoning the idea that the people know better than they do what is needed and what is not.

Perhaps the clearest example of federal over-involvement in state and local responsibilities is public education. It’s the classic case of how the federal government buys authority over state and local matters with tax-payer money and ends up squandering both the authority and the money while imposing additional burdens on states.

Between 1970 and 2005, federal spending on education increased nearly 150 percent without results to match. The No Child Left Behind law itself increased federal funding by some 26 percent, while creating 50 new educational programs nationally, imposing almost 7 million hours and more than 140 million dollars in compliance time and costs. The classrooms of America, where the learning actually takes place, receive but 61 cents out of every tax-payer dollar appropriated.

The Feds got it wrong, throwing money at a problem that either could have been cured at the local level or didn't exist at all. All any of this money has done is given Washington DC ever more control of our schools, something that experience has shown again and again is better left to local control. No Child Left Behind has done more damage our education system than anything else, changing the focus of education from actual learning to passing a mediocre test that proves only that the teachers have taught their students how to pass the test. It doesn't mean that they kids have actually learned anything useful or important.

There are endless examples showing how the Founding Fathers got it right, and equally endless examples of how the federal government has gotten too big, to slow, to wasteful, and in the end, too stupid to know what it is the people need or want.

Fred's got it right. It's time to take back the power that Congress and the federal bureaucrats have been usurping. It's time to restore the idea of federalism as the Founders intended.

(H/T Instapundit)


For Your TV Viewing Pleasure

Like many of you out there, I do liking watching TV. Sometimes we watch network shows (Heroes, Ghost Whisperer), sometimes something from Sci Fi or USA (Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Atlantis, 4400, Dead Zone), or something on DVD.

And like many of you, there are times when it seems that the various broadcasters have 'problems' with the audio levels. You know what I mean.

You're watching some program and the time comes for a commercial break. You've got the volume of your TV/home theater system set to a comfortable level. The the first commercial comes on....


The wall of sound slams you back into the easy chair you've just vacated in search of a beverage. You fumble around for the remote to turn the volume down or to mute it all together.

You collect your beverage, return to your easy chair, and wait for your program to continue. And when it does....

it's barely audible.

And the cycle repeats. Again. And again. And yet again....ad infinitum.

Many attempts have been made to put some kind of automatic volume control into TV sets and Surround Sound receivers, but they really don't work very well. Hiwever, thise days may soon come to an end.

The folks that brought you Dolby Digital, Dolby Labs, have also created something called Dolby Volume, a means of keeping the volume on your TV/home theater system at the level you set, regardless of the audio levels being broadcast.

Recognizing the widespread and intrusive issues related to volume variations, Dolby has leveraged its extensive understanding of audio and years of research to create Dolby Volume, the next generation of volume control technology for televisions. Dolby Volume features a new, groundbreaking volume leveling solution that, when integrated into televisions, provides a unique solution that finally overcomes the volume level differences in all content experienced through television sets.

Basically what it means is that we will no longer have to grab for the remote because the volume differences from program to program or program to commercials, or even from broadcast to recordings, will be minimized. The the only time the volume will be too high or too low is if we set it that way.

That's just as it should be.


Universal Health Care - A Preview

If anyone wants a preview of just how wonderful “free” health care will be, and just how expensive, take a look at this OpinionJournal editorial that illustrates just how bad it can be by using Wisconsin's efforts to create universal health care there.

This exercise is especially instructive, because it reveals where the "single-payer," universal coverage folks end up. Democrats who run the Wisconsin Senate have dropped the Washington pretense of incremental health-care reform and moved directly to passing a plan to insure every resident under the age of 65 in the state. And, wow, is "free" health care expensive. The plan would cost an estimated $15.2 billion, or $3 billion more than the state currently collects in all income, sales and corporate income taxes. It represents an average of $510 a month in higher taxes for every Wisconsin worker.

Right off the top, it hits the taxpayer right in the wallet. And those are with just the up front tax increases.

Employees and businesses would pay for the plan by sharing the cost of a new 14.5% employment tax on wages. Wisconsin businesses would have to compete with out-of-state businesses and foreign rivals while shouldering a 29.8% combined federal-state payroll tax, nearly double the 15.3% payroll tax paid by non-Wisconsin firms for Social Security and Medicare combined.

OK, now lets hit the businesses in the state by increasing the payroll taxes, which of course adds to their costs and makes them less competitive. They might lay off some of their employees to try to bring that back into balance. That always helps the local economy.

This employment tax is on top of the $1 billion grab bag of other levies that Democratic Governor Jim Doyle proposed and the tax-happy Senate has also approved, including a $1.25 a pack increase in the cigarette tax, a 10% hike in the corporate tax, and new fees on cars, trucks, hospitals, real estate transactions, oil companies and dry cleaners. In all, the tax burden in the Badger State could rise to 20% of family income, which is slightly more than the average federal tax burden. "At least federal taxes pay for an Army and Navy," quips R.J. Pirlot of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce business lobby.

So now they're going to try to outdo the Feds when it comes to taxes, meaning that over 35% of Wisconsin's workers income will be taken away, meaning they will have less to spend on things like food, clothing, durable goods. That also helps the local economy.

As if that's not enough, the health plan includes a tax escalator clause allowing an additional 1.5 percentage point payroll tax to finance higher outlays in the future. This could bring the payroll tax to 16%. One reason to expect costs to soar is that the state may become a mecca for the unemployed, uninsured and sick from all over North America. The legislation doesn't require that you have a job in Wisconsin to qualify, merely that you live in the state for at least 12 months. Cheesehead nation could expect to attract health-care free-riders while losing productive workers who leave for less-taxing climes.

Oh, yeah! Build in automatic rate hikes to suck even more out of the state's economy. And I doubt very much that the governor and the state legislature have taken into account that the bureaucracy that will run this train wreck will take up more and more of the revenues collected in “administrative costs”, meaning that the old saw about a bureaucracy's only function is to increase its size and decrease its efficiency in an effort to perpetuate itself. The health care system itself will get less and less of the funds as administrative costs rise. That ought to help grow Wisconsin's economy.

Yeah. Right.

I've seen this phenomenon before.

Back in the mid 1970's Massachusetts wasn't trying to run a universal health care system. But the governor and legislature was doing its darnedest to destroy the state's economy by making welfare more generous and far easier to obtain than previously, and they damn near succeeded. Income and sales taxes soared. Property taxes did likewise. Corporate taxes went through the roof. All any of this did was drive businesses out of business our out of state. Many companies pulled up stakes and moved to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, anywhere they could escape the ever more onerous taxes and fees being placed upon them by the state. At one point Massachusetts' unemployment rate was almost 14%. The one thing that finally made the state government wake up was when the largest private employer in the state (Digital Corporation) announced it was pulling out and moving all of its operations to New Hampshire and Vermont. Fortunately the governor was not re-elected and a number of voter initiatives took back some control over state and local spending. But Massachusetts suffered the aftereffects of the profligate spending and taxation for years afterwards.

I see it being little different in Wisconsin. The main difference is that the taxpayer's money will be dumped down the black hole of universal “free” health care rather than the incredibly generous welfare system that Massachusetts had back when. But Wisconsin will suffer and its health care system will fail, leaving everybody worse off than before the “free” health care became available.


Congress Trying To Weaken Separation Of Powers

It seems that I'm not the only one that sees that Congress's disregard the Separation of Powers as defined by the US Constitution.

The malicious nature of the Democrat controlled Congress “inquiry” into the firing of eight US Attorneys is, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, a manifestation of BDS. If the President was a Democrat, this inquiry wouldn't even be taking place. The double standard is showing itself by the actions of Congress.

Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower (whose administration invented the phrase "executive privilege") Kennedy and Reagan, among others, have kept executive deliberations secret from congressional inquiries, usually over matters of diplomacy, national security and law enforcement. Courts have recognized that discussions among their senior advisors, not just meetings when presidents are in the room, also receive protection. So why aren't Republicans fighting to defend executive privilege now?


Some Senate Democrats say Mr. Bush is just "stonewalling" and insinuate that he must be trying to hide something, as Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) has darkly intoned. But as he well knows, executive privilege traces its lineage to George Washington. In 1796, the House of Representatives demanded all his papers related to the controversial Jay Treaty with Great Britain. Washington refused, saying that the Constitution barred the House from the making of treaties. Firing U.S. attorneys and any other executive officers, including those requiring Senate approval, rests beyond the constitutional powers of Congress, and totally within those of the presidency. This has been true since the first cabinet departments were established in 1789.

The Supreme Court held in 1959 that, "Since Congress may only investigate into those areas in which it may potentially legislate or appropriate, it cannot inquire into matters which are within the exclusive province of one or the other branches of the Government." In the 1974 Watergate tapes case, the Supreme Court said that the president's right to protect information is strongest when law enforcement, national security or his other constitutional powers are involved. Under that rule, Mr. Leahy has no right to see the president's communications about the firing of federal attorneys, the nomination of John Roberts or Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court or the reduction of Scooter Libby's sentence.


Presidents can't invoke executive privilege to protect information needed for a criminal investigation, except perhaps if national security is at stake. Kenneth Starr pursued Mr. Clinton not for harassing Paula Jones, or having a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, but because Mr. Clinton apparently committed perjury and obstructed criminal investigations. Senate Democrats have yet to show that the firings have arguably violated a single law. Dumb and bad politics, maybe--criminal, no. If Senate Democrats really thought there was any crime here, then they ought to find somebody maliciously or politically prosecuted by a new U.S. attorney, or an FBI agent forced to drop a good case because of a new U.S. Attorney's partisan agenda. There is nothing criminal about a president's changing law-enforcement priorities, or replacing his political appointees with new blood.

This smacks of a power grab by the Democrats in Congress.

Remember when certain Democratic members of the Senate suggested that the President should consult them before submitting the nominations of federal judges or Supreme Court justices? More than one suggested that the means of selecting such jurists should be changed so that the President and Congressional leaders made the selections/nominations. There was only one problem with these suggestions: they were unconstitutional. Only the Executive branch of the government, and specifically the President, has the power to nominate these jurists. There is no leeway in this. It would require a constitutional amendment to make it legal, something the Dems knew they would not be able to achieve in a timely fashion. They were going to try to muscle in on the nomination process by legislating rules changes, but all it would take is a challenge brought to the Supreme Court by the President to quash the naked ambition of the Democrat lawmakers, and they knew it.

It's about time that the Democrats realize that at this point that they're wasting taxpayer dollars and pissing off the electorate. If the Republicans had a shock in 2006, I believe the Democrats are opening themselves to an even bigger one in 2008.

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a brief trip out on to the lake yesterday evening. BeezleBub had one of his long time friends from Keene up for a visit and, with the weather being so accommodating, we figured it would be a great way to wrap up the day. It set up things for our extended time out on the lake today.

Unfortunately there was quite a bit of traffic on the lake, making it less than pleasant under some circumstances. In one instance it caused me to overstress one of my knees, which has made known its state with a considerable amount of discomfort.


BeezleBub has finished out his second week on the farm and is thriving on the work. Unlike some kids, he actually enjoys it. The farm's owner commented to me the other day that he wish he had more kids like BeezleBub working for him. (Am I bragging? Of course!) He's always been a self-starter and feels “off” if he isn't doing something constructive during the daylight hours. I wish I had half his drive.

Then again, BeezleBub has always liked tractors and farm machinery, something he picked up from the WP Dad-In-Law. This job lets him get up close and personal with the equipment that he's only been able to see at fairs, on RFD-TV, and at Old Home Day in Gilsum, NH.


Jay Tea gets into the Electoral College debate. Some folks (primarily Democrats, and particularly younger Democrats) want it abolished in favor of using only the popular vote.

However, that leaves the country open to what is called “Tyranny of the Majority”. The framers of the Constitution understood that problem and worked to eliminate it. That's why the US Senate has equal representation by each state – two senators per state, regardless of population – and why they created the Electoral College, to make the states elect the President, and not the individual people. It balances the difference between population and the number of states.

As I questioned in one of my comments to the post, why should large states (states with a large population) have disproportionate power in Presidential elections?

While it is an unlikely scenario, it could happen this way: The ten top population states have a little more than 50% of the population of the US. If those ten states were able to convince all of their registered votes to cast their ballots for the same candidate, they would indeed elect the next President of the US. The other forty states would have no say in the matter even if the every voter in those states voted for the other candidate. That is what could be called Tyranny of the Majority because a minority of the 50 states decided what the majority of the states would do only because the “minority” has over 50% of the population. With the Electoral College, the forty states would outweigh the ten states (but only under this highly unlikely condition).

The Electoral College works just as the framers of the Constitution intended. It ain't broke. It don't need to be fixed.


I still wish the Democrats in Congress could get it through their heads that the firing of the eight US Attorneys was not criminal, was not illegal, and does not require investigation. Appointment or firing of US Attorneys is not a legislative function, but belong in toto the Executive branch of the US Government. They are political appointments. They serve at the pleasure of the President. Period. But the Dems are working hard to encroach on the Executive branch and are trying to criminalize something that is purely political, something that, by the Constitution, they have absolutely have no say.

I see this as but another manifestation of BDS.


And that's all the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summer boaters are back in numbers not seen since last summer, some marinas are seeing a pick up in business, and where we can get some of the best marinated steak tips we've ever tasted from one of the local butcher shops.


Flatlander News - Coming Full Circle

Brendan seems to have circles on his mind, big time. So do I, come to think of it.

He describes something that will rapidly become more common around here in the Granite State. Frankly, it's about time.

Coming Full Circle

It's summertime in New Hampshire and folks from all around the country will be traveling to the Granite State to revel in the many attractions we have to offer.

Canterbury Shaker Village, Clark’s Trading Post, Funspot, The Hobo Railroad and cruises on the Mount Washington, to name a few.

This year a new attraction has been added to this vast array. It just opened for business this past Motorcycle Week and already it's the talk of the Lakes Region. Situated between the Weirs and downtown Meredith, tourists
and locals alike are flocking to take part in what has already become a part of our state's history.... New Hampshire's first roundabout.

A roundabout, contrary to popular belief, is not a traffic circle.

In fact the dictionary definition for a traffic circle is: “a road junction formed around a central circle about which traffic moves in one direction only.”

The dictionary definition for a roundabout is: “The same as a traffic circle except much, much smaller. Easily navigated by two-wheeled vehicles and four-wheeled vehicles the size of a household meat freezer.”

In all fairness, the roundabout has brought about the desired results: to slow traffic down and to make the roads safer. Traffic has definitely slowed, in fact sometimes it’s at a complete standstill as drivers unfamiliar with it, and those just plain confused, try to jockey in and out of the thing.

The proper use of the roundabout is - and I hope you're listening because I am only going to say this once - is those already in the roundabout have the right-of-way and those entering must yield. In order to move things along there are some signs posted that advise those already in the roundabout to use their directional signals
(remember when they used to be called blinkers?) so those waiting can tell where they are heading so they can decide if it is safe to enter or not. The only problem is that the distance and time factor between entering the roundabout and then getting off is so minuscule that one would need the reflexes of a gazelle in order to signal that fast.

Once someone is in the roundabout they can circle as long as they want and, by law, everyone would have to wait until they decided to get off. In fact there is already an urban legend going around that the first person to
ever enter the roundabout was so confused that he continues, to this day, to be circling and circling trying to figure out how to get off. A local folk singer has already written a song to commemorate this auspicious event. Perhaps you've heard it.

“Did he ever return
No he never returned
and his fate is still unknown
He may circle forever
Round the roundabout of
He's the man who never

One of the great things about the roundabout is that it is bringing the community together. Every so often the word goes out by e-mail and cell phone.

“A logging truck is on Rte 3 on its way to the roundabout.”

Within minutes groups of locals can be seen gathering together around the circumference of the roundabout waiting in eager anticipation for the nose of the 18-wheeler to appear. As it crests the hill folks wait nervously to see if the big rig will be able to maneuver the tiny turn. Some gasps go up (as well as a few side bets) as the semi makes its approach.

“Hope he knows how to use the cobblestones.”

“Five-to-one he doesn't make it.”

The roundabout has been such a success as tourists and locals alike line up and wait for hours on end just to take one small pass through this new part of New Hampshire history, that there is already talk of building another one at the Rte3/25 intersection in downtown Meredith. (I also heard mention of a waterslide and midway, but I think that's just wishful thinking.) There's also a plan on the drawing board for a few roundabout fairs that will take place during very busy summer weekends.

So, if you haven't yet seen New Hampshire's first roundabout I urge you to make the trip today and find out for yourself what the fuss is all about. The lines are growing daily so take advantage of it now.

Take a ride on the roundabout. You‘ll be glad you did.

Brendan Smith welcomes your comments at brensmith@metrocast.net.

Brendan may not have known, but there is a second roundabout that opened shortly after the one in Meredith. It's located in my old home town of Plymouth where Route 3 meets with Route 175A. There's another one being built in the city of Keene. And I suspect that more are planned for a couple of more intersections here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

Believe it or not I'm actually looking forward to them.


Fred's Head

There's a post in The Economist that gives Fred Thompson some tonsorial advice.

Personally, I think he'd look awesome with Ronald Reagan's hair......


An Act Of Perfidy?

Listening to snippets of the Senate debate/filibuster merely confirmed to me that the Democrats really don't get it when it comes to Iraq, Al Qaeda, Iran, and Islamofascism.

When Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says that the war is lost, you know that Democrats don't realize that this is a war we dare not walk away from. Iraq is a linchpin in the war on terror, regardless of what they may believe. The place to fight Al Qaeda and other Islamofascist groups is over there, not here.

A premature withdrawal from Iraq will do nothing more than give Al Qaeda and Iran the signal that we don't have the stomach for a long fight, that our leaders are weak and foolish. It will embolden them, give them “street cred”, making it easier for them to recruit. Not long after such a withdrawal, I have no doubt that attacks will begin here. The pace of attacks will increase, the size of the attacks will increase, as will the deadliness of the attacks. And folks like Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats will see it as a law enforcement issue or something that can be negotiated to an end. The only thing Al Qaeda will negotiate is the manner of our destruction.

I find it difficult to believe the Democratic leadership really believes that all will be well if we abandon the Iraqis to the same fates suffered by others we abandoned in the past – the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians. Millions died when we committed those prior acts of perfidy. I believe that many millions more than that will die if we abandon Iraq now.

Somehow the Democrats have gotten it in their minds that war should have some kind of timetable that dictates when the war will be over. It may look nice in theory. It may look convincing on paper. But the reality of war is that it isn't over until the enemy surrenders or is dead. It doesn't end just because they declare victory and bring the troops home.

Should we not finish what we started in Iraq, pull out, and leave the Iraqi people to fates worse than that visited upon them by Saddam, we will, at some future time, have to return. But this time the price will be higher, the death toll greater. The third round of the war will not be the nice, fast, 'clean' actions of Operations Desert Storm or Iraqi Freedom. Instead it will require total war.

By total war I mean the destruction of Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, and maybe Saudi cities and towns. All of the infrastructure that supports the Islamofascists will have to be destroyed. Roads will be destroyed. Oil fields, pipelines, power stations, schools, hospitals, any building that may give the enemy a place to hide or to plan or resupply will be wiped from the earth. Civilian deaths will measure in the many millions. The Middle East will resemble the cities and towns of Europe and Japan at the close of World War II. Or worse, they may come to resemble Hiroshima and Nagasaki should the Islamofascists find the means to strike us with smuggled nuclear weapons. That is what it may come to if we don't take the opportunity to finish it now.

Am I overstating the case? It could be. On the other hand if a mushroom cloud appears over New York or Washington or some other American city, will Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats take responsibility for not stopping it when they had the chance? If recent history is of any measure, the answer is no.

The question that comes to mind is do the Democrats really believe what they're trying to sell to the American public or are they merely doing what they see as politically expedient in order to ensure their tenure in office? Unfortunately the American public loses whether it's the former or the latter.


"I Slam Islam"

Deb's ex sent this to us and I found it quite enlightening.

Here's a fellow that gets it. I mean he really gets it.



Cell Phone Etiquette - Or The Lack Thereof

How many of you out there have been annoyed at someone using their cell phone in an inappropriate place or, worse, being very loud as they talked on their phone as if they were the only person in a room/lobby/car/bus/airport?

I know I've been accosted on more than one occasion by someone's rude cell phone manners and I have plenty of family, friends, and acquaintances that have also suffered from this ever growing malady. While not solely an American affliction, it appears that we Yanks are some of the worse when it comes to poor cell phone manners.

Overseas, where cell phones are far more numerous, cell users aren't nearly as obnoxious or rude when it comes to using their phones. They actually have manners and do not wish to offend anyone while they use their cell phones.

Sitting in a London theatre last week waiting for the curtain to rise, we were startled to hear the loudest cell phone ringtone we'd ever heard broadcast over the theatre's loudspeaker--quickly followed by another, then another, then another until there was a virtual cacophony of conflicting bells, whistles, snippets of Europop and Beethoven echoing through the hall.

No official words were spoken. But laughter reverberated throughout the audience as people reached into their pockets and purses to verify that their mobile phones were indeed off. During the performance, not an electronic peep was heard.

Likewise, in the streets and in the London Underground, although virtually everyone you saw had a cell phone glued to his or her ear, there was virtually none of the shouted broadcasting of personal or business conversations that have unfortunately become difficult--if not impossible--to avoid in the United States. Instead, cell phone users seemed determined to be only seen, not heard. And in museums and restaurants, discreet signs stating firmly that cell phone use was off-limits were scrupulously obeyed.

When I asked our hostess why the British seemed to have a more highly developed sense of social appropriateness regarding cell phone use, she replied simply, "It's a matter of survival. We'd all kill each other otherwise."

We have to do some serious work here on this side of the Atlantic when it comes to cell phone etiquette.

It's a rare occasion when I don't hear a cell phone ring in the middle of a movie. (I don't carry one, but I do have a pager which is always set on vibrate mode when I'm at the movies or in a restaurant or in a meeting.) On more than one occasion I have also seen the screen of a cell phone appear a few rows down from where I'm sitting because someone cannot resist the urge to text someone else until after the movie is over.

I have no idea how many meals I've had ruined because someone else in the restaurant either can't not answer their phone or insist on holding long drawn out conversations with whoever is on the other end while ignoring the others dining with them, or worse, making sure that everyone else knows their business because they find it impossible to talk in hushed tones. All they manage to do is prove that they are rude and selfish.

Maybe we need some self-help books on cell phone etiquette. As the post quoted above mentions, in Japan a reporter for the International Herald Tribune found four such books.

It's time for we Americans to get a clue.


Immigration Policy Gone Wrong

For a perfect example of how the immigration system in the US is seriously broken, consider this a cautionary tale.

Two gentlemen from England, Andrew Cook and Nick Finnis, visited New England four years ago when they attended a wedding and fell in love with the area. Three years ago, after obtaining two-year E-2 visas, they bought an old inn in Temple, New Hampshire and proceeded to renovate it. Before their visas expired they were able to renew them and continued to rebuild the inn, something that had become a labor of love. Because they renewed their visas here rather than applying for them back in England, they were not allowed to travel freely between here and there.

Then one of these English gentlemen returned to England in order to look in on his elderly parents, both of whom were ailing. Upon his return to England he applied for his visa at the US Embassy in order to return to his partner and business.

His visa was denied and he can't legally re-enter the US.

The reason for the denial, according to the State Department, was that Cook's investment in the business wasn't "more than a marginal one solely for earning a living."

As a result, Cook can't return to America to tend to the business he invested his life savings in, Finnis said.

In a letter explaining the exchange with the immigration officer, Cook said he asked the officer what his options were. The officer said Finnis would have to run the business alone and build it up until it was acceptably profitable or would have to sell it.

Finnis added that most businesses don't see profits within the first three to five years, if at all. Expecting a one-man operation to suddenly make enough money to please the U.S. government is unlikely, Finnis said.

Here is someone who has jumped through the hoops to follow the immigration laws, someone who is providing jobs in a rural New Hampshire town and has the support of the townspeople, yet our government has banned him from returning to his new home town, his business, and his partner. This government is the same one that has no problem with allowing 12 million illegal immigrants to remain here. They keep out someone who provides jobs to Americans, but allow illegal immigrants to remain here that take jobs from Americans.

What's wrong with this picture?

Dumb Criminal

Talk about dumb criminals:

On Thursday, Jonathan McKnight walked into Cumberland Farms [in Derry, NH] and filled out an employment application, police said.

The next day, police said, he came back to buy a pack of cigarettes. A half hour later, they allege, he returned again, robbing the convenience store with a steak knife and fondling a clerk whom he encountered the day before.

McKnight, 24, was being held on $100,000 cash bail yesterday after police tracked him down with help from the application he filled out. He faces felony charges of robbery and criminal threatening and a misdemeanor sexual assault charge.

(emphasis added)

That's almost as bad as the story of the bank robber that wrote a stickup note on one of his own deposit slips.

Let's hope that they stay this dumb.


Failing Economics 101

Skip of Granite Grok takes our member of the House of Representatives to the woodshed for her poor understanding of economics, and rightfully so.

After reading his post a couple of times, I have to admit that I became both angry and frustrated, knowing that our BDS-inflicted Congress-critter was going to inflict all kinds of pain upon us, those she is supposed to represent. Her lack of understanding about basic economics worries me, the primary tenet of economics being that in oder to spend a dollar you must first have a dollar.

Now, what I remember most was the first couple of classes of EC-101 and how hard it was to not burst out laughing as the poor TA was trying to teach a lot of my classmates what I and my floormates was elementary school stuff - how do you describe a straight line on a graph (hint: Y = MX + B anyone?). Our mirth knew no bounds when we saw kids dropping out right and left because they "didn't get it" (sorta like the Physics and Math majors did, in turn, when we had problems in Multi-Variate Calculus).

When I saw this over at NH Insider, all those EC-101 memories came flooding back (and actually, I believe everyone should be exposed to basic micro- and macro-economics => ESPECIALLY if you are a legislator. Heck, I believe you should have a number of years as a private sector employee and employer to boot to be a legislator or Governor or President).

The bill to which Skip refers is supposed to reduce the costs of college educations by increasing the amount of money available for Pell grants, but do it without increasing the costs to taxpayers. I'd be all for that except for two things:

1 – The bill doesn't say where the money is going to come from. Unless cuts elsewhere in the budget are made to offset the increased funding for the grants, the money will have to come from the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes.

2 – I have come to realize that sending even more people to college is not necessarily an answer to some of the upcoming economic problems we're facing. We don't need more college graduates. We need more tradesmen to fix the stuff we already have or to build the things we want. At this point we need more plumbers, electricians, masons, mechanics, and so on, not more Business, English, or Women's Studies majors.

Skip also brings up the thought that even if more money becomes available that the cost of education will not remain the same. It will go up, nulling out the increased funding, if not returning a negative gain that will outstrip any amount of increase. Who ever heard of college costs going down? As Skip explains it:

When there are no incentives for colleges to rein in their cost structure, tuition and board/room costs continue to rise. When the Feds simply throw money into the hopper at one end without making the outflow smaller, enlarging loan amounts will only exacerbate the problem - not make it better.

And that's another blind spot from which our Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter, suffers. But then she's never seen a spending program she doesn't like...except, of course, for the one that supports our troops.


It's A Fred-cast At Red State

Fred Thompson's been busy, particularly with our friends over at Red State.

Red State Radio got a chance to interview Fred.

Part 1 can be found here, and Parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here.

They cover topics from Fred's potential candidacy, Scooter Libby, Iraq, and what he'd first do as President.


We Might Win? Surrender At Once!

It seems that the NYT editorial about how we should abandon Iraq regardless of the consequences is having its effect. Congressional Democrats have already declared the surge a failure, even though they know that any results of the surge couldn't be quantified until September at the earliest, and reports from non-military sources are saying that the surge is working. But it's not something the Nyt is willing to admit.

I'm not sure what the NYT and the No-War-At-Any-Cost folks would consider victory, unless it's victory for Al Qaeda and Iran's Qods Force in Iraq. But there are fallacies they are spreading in an effort to get us to quit, despite what the cost in human lives will be. (Of course they won't be American lives, just Iraqi lives.)

The two biggest fallacies being promoted are false, disproven because of the sheer amounts of evidence to the contrary.

Falsehood No. 1: The "surge" is already a failure.

Fact: The surge is just beginning. All of the brigades Gen. Petraeus requested have only been in place since mid-June and already there are promising indicators. Since January, sectarian murders are substantially down, arms caches are being found at three times the rate of last year and young Sunnis and Shiites are joining the Iraqi security forces in record numbers.


Falsehood No. 4: U.S. troops are not fighting an enemy in Iraq, just policing a "civil war."

Fact: America's enemies are invested in our defeat in Iraq. Al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri say they want to "expel the Americans from Iraq" and establish a "caliphate" to "extend the jihad to the secular countries neighboring Iraq." These killers are intent on spreading their violent ideology, and believe stoking sectarian violence is the best way to achieve their goals. Al Qaeda may only make up 10% of the insurgency in Iraq, but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in lethality. Gen. Petraeus has said that "80 to 90% of suicide bombers are foreign fighters," and by neutralizing them, we could stomp out the low-level civil war.

In light of these facts, our country faces an important decision: listen to David Petraeus and the generals in Iraq, who believe we finally have a winning strategy that will take time to execute, or bow to the political demands of Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are more interested in avoiding defeat in their home districts than defeating al Qaeda & Co. in Iraq.

Gen. Petraeus promised a candid report in September. Until then, for the same senators who unanimously confirmed him and his counterinsurgency strategy in January to undercut his efforts is extremely irresponsible, and exposes how quickly war-time leadership can transform into election-season pandering.

Never have I seen a bunch of cowardly, sell-out, racist, disingenuous bunch of surrender monkeys like those No-War-At-Any-Cost weenies in all my life. If they do not stand for what is right – fighting an easily identified evil that seems to know no bounds – then they stand for nothing...except what is expedient for them for the time being. They cannot look far enough into the future, nor learn the lessons of the past, in order to see the outcome of their actions. Upon them I wish an ancient Chinese curse:

“May you live in interesting times.”

Let us see how they would react once those they tacitly support come to their neighborhoods, into their homes or places of business and lay some of that harabahist “justice” upon them. Just as their severed heads hit the floor, maybe they will have a brief moment of clarity, allowing them to realize that they could have prevented the very tragedy that has befallen them if only that had had the courage to do the right thing rather than the easy, expedient thing.

But then again, probably not.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It figures.

Here it is, the last day of my vacation, and starting tomorrow we're getting some real summer weather. Not that the weather was all that awful during this past week (though last weekend it was more like fall rather than summer). It will be in the upper 80's to lower 90's tomorrow, the type of weather perfect for boating. Unfortunately today's weather was a mishmash, with rain, thundershowers, and warm/cool/warm cycles all day. It isn't the type of weather for a day out on the lake.

Where will I be starting tomorrow morning? At work, of course.

Sometimes you can't win no matter what.


Speaking of vacation, Jay Tea had me scratching my head about this post. It's not what he wrote that had me scratching my head. It's the folks he's writing about that have me puzzled.

I don't know about you, but if I go camping it's not going to be with all kinds of electronic gizmos of the type I have at home. I don't need my satellite or cable TV. I don't need a WiFi connection for my laptop. The only electronic gear I'll bring with me is my handheld GPS and my handheld 2-meter FM amateur radio. One I'll use if I'm going to be hiking in an area that I'm not familiar with and I'll use it in conjunction with a map of the area. The other I'll use if I need information or help. The rest of that crap stays at home where it belongs.


Pam of Blogmeister USA offers a link to a story about the Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature.


It appears that Al Qaeda is winning the media war, with more Republican senators willing to abandon our efforts in Iraq and leaving the Iraqi people to deal with the Islamofascists and the bloodbath that will follow our withdrawal. Could it be that the senators are out of touch with what's really going on in Iraq or are they buying the propaganda being foisted upon us through Al Qaeda's mouthpieces, i.e. the MSM.

The No-War-At-Any-Cost folks must be ecstatic at the prospect that Republicans are now turning their backs on the efforts of US troops to finally drive Al Qaeda In Iraq to ground. They've already declared the surge in Iraq a failure even though it's barely begun.

What an effin' shame.


One of my favorite rockers, Ted Nugent, sends out wakeup call, reminding us that the so-called “Summer of Love” was really the “Summer of Drugs” and that too many people bought into the “tune in, turn on, and drop out” mentality.

So now, 40 years later, there are actually people who want to celebrate the anniversary of the Summer of Drugs. Hippies are once again descending on ultra-liberal San Francisco--a city that once wanted to give shopping carts to the homeless--to celebrate and try to remember their dopey days of youth when so many of their musical heroes and friends long ago assumed room temperature by "partying" themselves to death. Nice.


Death due to drugs and the social carnage heaped upon America by hippies is nothing to celebrate. That is a fool's game, but it is quite apparent some burned-out hippies never learn.


The fallout from the soft real estate market and sub-prime mortgages continues to grow. Home prices are falling and foreclosures are up. That's certainly true here in New Hampshire.

One former homeowner found out the hard way that she should always read whatever it is she's signing. Because she didn't she lost everything.

Line the old saying goes, caveat emptor.


Here's more on the MSM's coverage of the war in Iraq, or as the case, the lack of it. Here's what Michael Yon reports, versus what Kiki Munshi reports. They are both reporting about the goings on in Baqubah. The difference?

Michael Yon is actually in Baqubah and has been during all of the fighting. Kiki Munshi is not and was not. Which report would you believe?

(H/T Blackfive)


Regular blogging resumes tomorrow as I have finished vacation.



And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where boat traffic is down, gas prices are up, and where my vacation ended all too soon.


It's Time To Make English The Official Language Of The US

Over the years the argument has been made that it is past time for Congress to get off its collective butt and make English the official language of the United States.

Those opposed cite that to do so would disenfranchise those immigrants that do not speak English and that we as a nation should go out of our way to accommodate them by making services (driver license exams, ballots, government publications, and so on) available in their native languages. However, all that does is slow or even stop the assimilation process of these immigrants, leaving them nothing more than second class residents/citizens because they will be trapped within their small enclaves and never truly comprehend what it means to become American.

California did away with bilingual education because the immigrant parents wanted their children to learn English, to become American. They knew that a good command of English was a requirement to succeed in this country. The example of my own grandparents, immigrants from Finland, is a lesson that too many of the do-gooder multi-lingualists have failed to learn.

Neither my grandfather or grandmother spoke English when they arrived here in the 1930's. In a few short years they were pretty fluent. This fluency allowed my grandfather to build a successful tool and die business from nothing, to become one of the foremost machine shops in Hartford, Connecticut before he retired in the mid-60's. Without the ability to speak English none of that would have happened. He would not have been able to communicate effectively with his customers unless they happened to speak Finnish or Swedish, meaning he wouldn't have succeeded at all.

Being able to communicate effectively is one way to assure that someone can exercise all of their rights and take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves. Without that communication none of that will happen. It can also lead misunderstandings that can have negative, if not tragic outcomes.

This is an issue that Peggy Noonan explores, stating that it is something that Congress will have to address soon.

The question of whether America should have an "official language," of whether English should be formally declared our "national language," is bubbling, and will be back, in Congress, the next few sessions.

When you look at papers outlining the facts of the debate, things break down into dryness very quickly. Should "issues of language diversity" be resolved by imposing "linguistic uniformity"? This is like asking if the robots should speak logarithmically or algorithmically. There are few things you can rely on in this turbulent world, but one is the tendency of academics to use language poorly, even when discussing language.

But there's something odd about the English question. It feels old-fashioned. Because we all know America has an official language, and a national language, and that it is English. In France they speak French, and in China they speak Chinese. In Canada they have two national languages, but that's one reason Canada often seems silly. They don't even know what language they dream in.

The real question, ultimately, is whether America wants to go that route. Should we allow America devolve into a nation of two official languages--in this case, following recent demographic trends and realities, English and Spanish?

We've never done that in more than 200 years. It would be radical, and destructive, to do it now.

Any proposal to make English the official language of the US would not preclude anyone from using any language they wish when they are with family or friends. That has often been the case with immigrants in the US for generations. But to force everyone else to use languages other than English in order to fulfill some silly politically correct notion of “language diversity” is asinine. There's enough language diversity throughout the world as it is. We don't need to create it artificially here as well in order to assuage someone's case of “White Man's Guilt”. It is something that often afflicts the politically correct morons who seem to think that by destroying what has made America a great nation they will be righting some imagined wrong.

It is time to get past that foolish notion and do what should have been done generations ago: make English the official language of the United States.


Fourth Of July - A Celebration

Today is July 4th, the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Many keep the holiday close to their hearts, understanding the meaning of this celebration. Others see it as a time to party, using fireworks in addition to the traditional summer party fare – burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and all the other fixin's. And yet others see it as merely another day off.

I am of both the first and second persuasion, holding close to my heart and as a time to party with friends and family to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest nations to ever exist on the earth.

I know that many will disagree my observation that this is the greatest nation. Most of them live outside this country. Unfortunately the rest live within the US, seeing our nation as the cause of all the worlds ills and blinding themselves to the evils committed by others, as if small actions by America that they find objectionable are far more serious than large scale wrongs committed by other nations. It seems they want the US to be perfect, slamming every perceived imperfection as a crime against humanity. But America is made up of members of the human race, and as such, we are fallible. We make mistakes. We will never be perfect. And that is a crime in the eyes of those looking for perfection.

I have two words for those of you looking for that: Lighten up.

There are so many others that love this nation, imperfections and all. Many were born here. Many were not. It's not that we ignore the problems with this country. If anything we are far more aware of them than not. But we also understand that treating our shortcomings as some kind of stain upon humanity will not solve those problems.

The United States of America is the culmination of an experiment that started with the creation of the Magna Carta almost 8 centuries ago. Over those centuries ideas and philosophies were developed, tested, and modified, trying to come up with a balance that worked. I'd say we're pretty close to that today.

America has been the land of promise for many generations, calling people from all over the world to its shores to find the freedoms they did not have in their homelands. Success was never assured. So many came here with little and made a life for themselves and their families. They worked hard and, for the most part, succeeded in their endeavors. Their children reaped the benefits of their labors, and in many cases exceeded the successes of their parents and lived the American life to its fullest. Many of those who chose to become Americans also put their lives on the line to defend it, answering the call to duty and, in many cases, giving their lives to secure the freedoms so hard won by their predecessors.

It is they we celebrate, those born here and those that came from far away places, not just the Founding Fathers. It is they who have kept the faith, knowing that as flawed as we are we are striving to be better. It is what the Fourth of July is really about. It is what we are truly celebrating.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Blogging may be light the rest of the week as I am on vacation. On the other hand, it might be heavier because I'm on vacation.

You never know.


It's also one of the two NASCAR weekends here in New Hampshire. I'll be watching the the race from NHIS from the comfort of the best seats in the house – in front of my TV while I sit in the recliner.


The Boat also made it back into the water this morning and now resides in its slip, ready for duty.

It's about friggin' time.

With it being Julyst, you'd think it would be summer weather. But you'd be wrong.

It feels more like late September, with the high temps only going to reach the 60's today. It's also windy today, making it feel even cooler. There's enough of a breeze to cause whitecaps out on the lake.

This is not how summer vacation is supposed to be.

So, do you want to tell me about global warming again?


In regards to the surge in Iraq, neo-neocon compares Congress to Groucho Marx. She makes the comparison work.


KelliPundit links to an interesting Front Page Magazine article that makes comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq, showing the present day the anti-war Democrats look at the tactics their predecessors used to abandon the Vietnamese and Cambodian people, which in turn led to the deaths of millions in Southeast Asia. They obviously learned the wrong lessons of Vietnam and look to do the same thing again to the Iraqi people. Except that this time the enemy won't stay in their part of the world but will come here to “finish the job”, doing their best to destroy the West, including those self-same anti-war Democrats.


John Weidner brings up an interesting point in his post “We played the enemy's game for too long...”


Kat of The Middle Ground reminds the “peace at all costs” folks that we are not the only ones who can escalate war.

That's something to keep in mind in regards to the Middle East. Iran, or Syria, or Al Qaeda could decide to up the stakes. What do we do under those circumstances? We sure as hell don't run away. To do that would sign our death warrants.


In case you have ever wondered about some of the enemy we fight in Iraq, Michael Yon has a photo essay with commentary on the tactics of Al Qaeda, particularly those used against a village full of people they don't like.

Remember, most of the Al Qaeda fighters these days are not Iraqis, but foreign fighters from other Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

You must ask yourself this: What would happen if we were to pull out Iraq before we finished the job? Michael's piece should give you a pretty good idea of what Iraqi people will face if Congress decides to abandon them.


July 7th is Robert Heinlein's 100th birthday.

Heinlein certainly affected my love of both reading and writing science fiction. The philosophy of one of his characters, Lazarus Long, also played a part in forming my political beliefs.


Jay Solo points us to a Slate article about how the “vaccines cause autism” meme just won't die.


Jeff Soyer chimes in with his take on the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” and how, if it is ever again implemented, should spread across all media, not just radio and TV. Somehow I doubt that the Democrats would really want it the way Jeff describes it. But, hey...fair is fair!!


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where it says summer on the calendar even if the weather says otherwise, the NASCAR fans have passed through the gates of New Hampshire International Speedway, and where the myriad of NASCAR bizjets are parked on the ramp at Laconia Airport.